So. Ore. Renegades Sept. 11 game to honor Kris Butler

The Southern Oregon Renegades, the Rogue Valleys premier minor league football team, were dealt a devastating blow over this past weekend when founding team member and player, Kristopher L. Butler, died in a tragic car accident on the Greensprings Highway while on his way back to Klamath Falls, where he recently moved. Kris was a 2007 graduate of Eagle Point High School and was only 21 at the time of his passing. He leaves behind countless numbers of family, friends, teammates and colleagues; every single person is absolutely grief-stricken.

Butler began his minor league football career when he joined the newly formed Southern Oregon Renegades in 2008 and was an integral part of the teams success over the past two seasons. “Kris struck me as a happy-go-lucky kind of guy when I first met him at our Pear Blossom booth back in ’08,” team owner Rock DeMello said. “When we saw him run at tryouts a short time later, we were just blown away.” Then coach Freddie Taulani dubbed him ‘Skittlez’ because it seemed the only fitting way to describe how fast his feet moved across the field.

Selecting Butler to the team seemed a no-brainer. As the Renegades built momentum through their 2008, inaugural, 9-1 season, so did Butler. “Every time Kris touched the ball, we were just waiting for something spectacular to happen. He had this way of turning every play into an energizing boost for teammates to follow,” says DeMello. Even as his talent shone brightly, so too did his personality.

As one of the founding players of the Renegades, Butler’s infectious smile and positive attitude were but two of the reasons players considered themselves more than a team; they considered themselves a family. “Our core guys had a different level of love and respect for each other. That’s why we won, I feel,” said Garry Colbert, #24. The Tight End/Linebacker went on to say “We always watched out for each other on and off the field. Skittlez has been there since day one. He was our go to guy…ran as hard as he could every play, with the biggest smile ever! He brought spirits up just being there. I look back and feel like he was sent to us from heaven.”

Butler’s mother, Gloria Butler, echoed Colbert’s sentiment when she spoke to the team Tuesday night, “Kris loved this team. You guys were like family to him, like his brothers. Go out there and give the same 110% Kris always did. He would want that.”

“Our team as a whole is crushed,” said Leona Westdahl, owner. “We’re struggling to make sense of Kris’ passing and are looking for a positive outlet for our grief. As owners and as personal friends of the Butler family, we feel the very least we can do is dedicate our final home game of the season on Saturday September 11th at Spiegleberg Stadium to the memory of Kristopher L. Butler and to use proceeds generated at the gate to both help the Butler family offset expenses related to Kris’ passing AND raise seed money to establish a permanently endowed scholarship fund in Kris’ name.” Westdahl hopes to raise a sizable chunk of money at the September 11th match-up against the Rogue Warriors, being billed as the “K41 Skittlez Bowl”, to help establish the fund. Fundraising will continue annually through a pre-season All Star game among minor league football players from all around the Pacific Northwest.

“We are truly devastated and feel the best way to help keep Kris’ legacy with the Renegades alive is through a scholarship,” says Westdahl. “We’re currently exploring our options in establishing the scholarship. The Oregon Community Foundation and the Oregon Student Assistance Commission have come up.” The Renegades will work closely with the Butler family in the establishment of the scholarship.

The K41 Skittlez Bowl will be held on Saturday September 11th at South Medford High School’s Spiegelberg Stadium. The Southern Oregon Renegades will take on the Rogue Warriors, also of Medford, and kick-off is at 6 p.m. Gates will open at 5 p.m. Admission to the game is $15 for a family of 5, $8 for singles, $5 for youth and seniors (7-17 and 55+ respectively) and children 6 and under are FREE. A Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday September 12th at Eagle Point High School Stadium at 2 p.m.

Persons wishing to donate to the Butler family directly can do so at any Rogue Federal Credit Union branch. Anyone interested in donating to the scholarship fund that the Southern Oregon Renegades intend to establish should contact Leona Westdahl at 541-951-5174 or gm@renegadesfootball.com.

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