We may be all celebrating another Grizzly playoff win. But the truly astonishing numbers are the total you so generously donated during Friday's annual "KYSSmas for Kids" fundraiser.

And both accomplishments show Montana's true heart.

Just minutes before the Griz were ready for kickoff in Washington Grizzly Stadium (and what would become a close, but solid 35-28 win over Furman), we were celebrating another victory, as KYSSmas set a new, and undreamed record of more than $78,000 in donations.

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A remarkable milestone in Missoula's tradition of caring

Last year our KYSSmas supporters, which include hundreds of individuals, businesses, and other organizations had pushed the total for the legendary one-day radio auction and donation drive to a mark that easily eclipsed all previous efforts, reaching $55,000. That was enough to help over 500 kids in the Missoula region have the kinds of Christmas denied them by economic circumstances.

"Downridgger Dale" Moore Jr shares a laugh during Friday's show: Dennis Bragg photo
"Downridgger Dale" Moore Jr shares a laugh during Friday's show: Dennis Bragg photo

When we started Friday's broadcast at 6 am, we knew we had our work cut out for us, as even more families are struggling right now against the headwinds of inflation and skyrocketing costs for housing and transportation.

But as the day went along, we had a feeling something special was developing. Little did we know a new record was waiting.

"Friends" made the difference

Driven once again by super volunteer John Maki, the tally shot forward in the late afternoon, when he reported in with the donations he'd gathered from friends and associates, many of them connected to the building trades and family-owned businesses. And that total of just over $23,000 jumped to an even $30,000, when his boss, Direct Source owner Rich Sargent, topped off the total, making the largest single group donation of the entire day.

Denny Bedard checks the bids; Dennis Bragg photo
Denny Bedard checks the bids; Dennis Bragg photo

Yet even while that amazing team was completing their efforts, we began to realize all the donations, large and small, from individuals, families, clubs, and businesses all across Western Montana were putting us over the top.

Still, our jaws dropped in unbelief when KYSS' Jared Maynard reported the total 13 hours after we started. It was the biggest combination of smiles, hugs, and a few tears we may have ever seen in the KYSS control room.

And it didn't end there

Even as we ended the marathon broadcast, another major donation came through, as Minuteman Aviation called to pledge an additional $2000, pushing the total to $80,000.

Yes, it was the greatest moment in the three-decade history of KYSSmas, and it was all because of you. And we estimate that means we'll be able to help several hundred more kids and their families than we had hoped for.

Thank you so much!: Scott Richman photo, Townsquare Media
Thank you so much!: Scott Richman photo, Townsquare Media

While bidding closed on all of the wonderful auction items donated by area businesses, there's still a chance for you to help over the weekend by making a donation at KYSSmas.com.

From the bottom of our big radio hearts, we can't say "thank you" enough.

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