If nothing else, Ben Jones and Carter Motichka had a talent for captivating an audience. The two flat-stomached, 6-foot-3 basketball players prepared for an eating competition between them — one …
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If nothing else, Ben Jones and Carter Motichka had a talent for captivating an audience. The two flat-stomached, 6-foot-3 basketball players prepared for an eating competition between them — one habanero and 50 chicken nuggets each and five minutes to finish.
Neither ended up clearing more than four nuggets. The display devolved into an audience of 200 parents and students laughing and wincing as the two teenagers projectile vomited into one gray 55-gallon trash can between them. The habanero pepper was what got them, Motichka said.
“We looked at each other and were going to tap-out at the same time,” Jones said. “And he didn't do it, so I didn't do it.”
Motichka and Jones did not take home any prize from Ponderosa's Wish Week talent show.
The Ponderosa baseball team won the top prize, the vote from the night's special judge, Ethan Kipp, a local 8-year-old diagnosed with leukemia. The team put on an elaborate dance routine to win the hearts Kipp and those in the audience.
The boys' public purging was not all for naught. The Feb. 5 show's proceeds benefited a fundraiser to send Kipp to Legoland in San Diego. The student body rallied around Ethan for its annual philanthropy week through the Colorado Make-A-Wish Foundation Jan. 31-Feb. 7, a week that culminated in an exhibition football game where Ethan made the harrowing touchdown catch.
Ethan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2017. The disease is treatable, but it will be a long journey back, said his mother, Caroline Frizell. That journey won't come without hours in hospitals for treatment. Frizell said that on the gloomiest days, they would dream of Legoland and playing football for Ponderosa.
Frizell said she was overwhelmed by the effort the students put into the entire week, from decorating the school to putting on a talent show to even throwing up in front of people.
“It shows me there's literally nothing this community won't do for one of their own,” Frizell said.
All week, Ethan was taken under the wing of the Ponderosa student body. Football captain Mikee Barker met Ethan in November and said they've grown close since then. Ethan will even get to wear Barker's No. 1 jersey during his big game.
“For the past couple years we've done this. It's really fun to help out someone who would want to do something fun, especially Ethan. He's such a great kid and it's nice to help out,” Barker said.
The student body did not skimp on the Lego theme. Students from feeder schools competed in a Lego competition, which Ethan also judged. For $5 the students could experience a virtual reality Legoland experience. The school's DECA team hosted a silent auction including things such as a premium parking spot or locker, gift cards, ski lift tickets and an autographed football. By the end of the week, the student body had raised more than $8,000 to send Ethan and his family to Legoland.
“It's neat he gets to meet other kids and have somebody to look up to,” Frizell said. “It's really amazing to watch these kids give so much of themselves for someone they don't know.”
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