EVART – Take one part charity event and mix it with two parts basketball fun and you’ll have what Evart area residents are sure to remember as a night they got to meet past and present Detroit Lioans.

Hundreds filed in to the Evart High School gym on Saturday night for Evart Public Schools’ third annual fundraiser for athletic programs. When the six Lions weren’t on the court playing against Evart staff, alumni and community members, they warmly greeted the swarm that gathered from around the region to support the schools, get autographs or just meet a player.

The former players that came included fullback Cory Schlesinger, offensive lineman Brock Gutierrez, defensive lineman Robert Callaway, safety Stuart Schweigert and tight end Rob Rubick, who’s also a Lions TV analyst. Current place-kicker David Rayner also was present.

“This is something they actually do every winter,” said Evart athletic boosters president Steve Kitchen. “I contacted the Detroit Lions themselves and they referred me to Rob Rubick. ... He’s got some interconnections with the Detroit Lions and the players.”

The Lions signed autographs and spoke with attendees at halftime.

Kitchen noted the contribution of several local businesses, which helped cover the costs of the event. Through the fundraiser’s three-year duration, this was the best turnout he had seen.

A game played by purely Evart alumni prefaced the Lions appearance.

During its previous two years, the basketball competition fundraiser has raised thousands for Evart athletics, Kitchen said.

“It’s going to be difficult to do something bigger and better next year, I know that,” he added. “We’ll have to give creative here.”

Video from the event can be viewed on the Big Rapids Pioneer's YouTube channel: