DOVER-FOXCROFT — Ethan Kane knows firsthand the good done by the Shriner’s hospitals. For the recently graduated Ellsworth High School senior, that makes playing in the 29th Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl extra special. Kane looked at his left arm, at the faint scars and the seamless skin graft, and he knew how important every snap he’d play in Saturday’s game at Thornton Academy would be.

“I’m really excited to go represent the kids at the hospital and the Shrine and everything they work so hard for,” Kane said during a break from practice early last week at Foxcroft Academy.

“A lot of times, you nominate a kid, and they don’t understand the true meaning of the Lobster Bowl,” Duane Crawford, Ellsworth High’s head football coach, said.

A 6-foot, 240-pound offensive lineman, Kane spent just under a week at the Shriner’s hospital in Boston last winter. The days sort of blend together, but the reason he was there will always be clear.

Kane was taking a welding test. His left arm rested on the plate.

“It was hard to feel through my protective equipment. The heat radiated right through it to my arm and burnt me pretty good,” Kane said.

By the time he realized his left arm was essentially cooking, it was too late. Kane had third degree burns.

At Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, doctors told Kane they were not equipped to treat his injury, but they knew the hospital that was. Calls were made, and soon, Kane was on his way to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Boston.

“I went down there and the doctor and the nurse met me at the door. I was receiving care as soon as I got there,” Kane said.

Kane was 17 when he was treated at the hospital, older than the average patient. His stay there was relatively short in comparison to many patients he met. At the time of his treatment, Kane knew he was being considered for selection to the Lobster Bowl. When it became official in the spring, he was thankful, and determined to give back.

“I didn’t know what I was playing for or the cause I was playing for at the time. It gave me something to drive me,” Kane said.

Each player and cheerleader participating in the Lobster Bowl is required to raise $500. Kane raised close to $3,000.

“I tried to do my best and raise as much as I could for the kids down there,” Kane said. “Help them out, because I’ve seen so many kids who are really going through hell.”

Ellsworth-area businesses were great supporters, Kane said. Some donations came in from strangers who saw an interview he did with WABI news. Family and friends chipped in. Crawford is not surprised by the effort Kane showed in fundraising.

“Ethan was a great leader for us,” Crawford said. “He’s strong and intelligent. You don’t have to spend a lot of time with him on technique and blocking assignments. If you have 11 Ethans, you’re doing OK.”

In the first quarter of Ellsworth’s second game of the season, at Mount View, Kane broke his arm. He stayed on the sidelines with his team until the game was over, offering encouragement to his young teammates, Crawford said.

“He refused to leave the field,” Crawford said.

Ellsworth has been a varsity football program only a handful of years. When the Eagles qualified for the Little Ten Conference playoffs last season, the first postseason bid in the program’s history, Kane was back on the field, leading his team. On Tuesday, he talked about representing Ellsworth with pride.

“It’s pretty good to be able to represent my program and my town. It’s a small program that doesn’t have a lot of kids in it, and it has not had a lot of people represent them in this game. It’s a good chance to go out there and show them what we’re made of,” Kane said. “It’s a lot different, going from a team with a lot of young players, to playing against some of the best in the state. It’s a lot harder, more physical. It’s a good opportunity to learn from them. Sad to say it, but I only got two games last season, so this is a chance for me to come out and play my last game and have a good time.”

“I hope he’ll come back in preseason and relay his experience, to give them something to strive for,” Crawford said.

Every year, the Shriners do a wonderful job letting the football and cheerleaders know the reason they play the game. The athletes and their families are invited to a lunch meeting each spring, where they see a video on the hospitals, and often hear a testimonial from a former patient. This year, they just have to take a look at Kane. Months after receiving his treatment from the Shriner’s hospital, he’s playing alongside them.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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