OCEANSIDE — The Honor Bowl will match up top high school football teams and present halftime shows that honor the military Sept. 5 and Sept. 6.
The bowl is about heroes on the football field and in the combat zone.
This year’s bowl lineup will include local teams Oceanside High School and Mission Viejo High School, and national bests Serra High School, of Gardena, California, and Bellevue High School, of Bellevue, Washington.
Halftime shows will feature skydivers, cheerleaders and a tribute to helicopter teams that provide troops cover during war.
“It’s pretty full,” Mark Soto, Honor Bowl executive director and founder, said.
Soto said he started the event at Del Oro High School, in Loomis, California, five years ago to educate the community on the needs of young military veterans.
The cause hits close to home for Soto. He has two sons who serve in the military, one of whom has sustained injuries.
“After my sons were deployed, and I saw their friends coming back injured and wounded, I came up with the idea for the foundation,” Soto said.
Soto is a former high school football coach. He put the ideas of football games and honoring the military together to create the bowl.
The event, held at Del Oro High School where Soto formerly coached, is called Honor Bowl North.
Last year the first Honor Bowl South was held at Oceanside High School.
The bowl events roust spirits. Many of the high schools that participate voluntarily raise money for the nonprofit following the event.
“We’re teaching the youth in American what a hero looks like,” Soto said.
Following last year’s games enough funds were raised to supply seven veterans with Action Trackchair all-terrain wheelchairs.
The $15,000 wheelchair allows outdoorsmen to travel over sand and mud.
“We supplied seven last year, we’d like to double that,” Soto said.
Soto said he selected the all terrain wheelchairs as the nonprofit’s cause because he wanted to help young veterans stay active.
“Many are in their 20s, they have their whole life ahead of them,” Soto said. “It truly allows them to have as normal a life as they can without any legs.”
For more information on the event and nonprofit, go to thehonorgroup.org.