Goodness, there's nothing quite like a great Souper Bowl.
Yes, that's spelled correctly.
Souper Bowl, as in the Souper Bowl of Caring, a charitable organization started more than 20 years ago with the mission to feed the hungry.
It all began with a prayer uttered by seminary intern Brad Smith at a Presbyterian Church in Columbia, S.C.: "Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to eat."
The Souper Bowl of Caring is a youth-led movement, but it involves people of all ages, beliefs, denominations, shapes, sizes and colors.
That includes my buddy Brad Larsen, former Weber State sports information director.
Brad is a good guy and he showed it during Thursday night's Weber State-Portland State men's basketball game. That's when he went around the Dee Events Center with a big jar, collecting money for the Utah Food Bank.
He raised more $300, all as part of the Souper Bowl of Caring.
Great idea, isn't it? In the days leading up today's Super Bowl, folks like Brad all around the country have been collecting money for their local food pantries and soup kitchens. They encouraged folks to donate a portion of the money they'd spend on Super Bowl parties.
My friend Brad isn't a big spotlight guy. Oh sure, he's done some Weber State radio -- what Wildcat fan hasn't heard him on the air, fretting about this or that during a football or basketball game? -- but, really, he's more of a behind the scenes kind of guy.
So, with some gentle urging, Brad sat down after the 'Cats' victory Thursday night and explained himself.
"You can give money, you can give food -- whatever," he said. "But the money doesn't go back to the national organization, it goes to your local (charities) you can choose where it goes."
Brad sought donations in the name of his wife, Pauline, who died in October after two valiant battles with cancer.
Pauline was a gentle person who shared her time freely. Like a shortstop with incredible range, she made the difficult plays look easy, which is to say she was charitable when doing so wasn't always convenient.
"I never really gave money or did anything to try to help anybody else," Brad admitted. "I was just kind of selfish with my time. But Pauline, she was the other way. And she would do it without me knowing. She's just do things. I'd find out from somebody else."
Before she died, Pauline admonished Brad to spend a little more time helping others. She did so knowing Brad, who had just retired after 31 years at WSU, would have extra time on his hands.
She figured after playing golf with the boys at El Monte, Brad could find a project whereby he could help others.
When he was told about the Souper Bowl of Caring, he saw it as a way to follow through with his wife's wishes.
"I didn't really know how to do it," he said. "So I just made a banner and put Pauline's picture on it and I registered with (the Souper Bowl of Caring) under the name 'Larsen Wildcats.' "
There were tears in Brad's eyes late Thursday as he offered thanks to those who gave. He said he ran into people at the game who didn't know him, but knew Pauline. Of course, they gave accordingly.
Brad said he isn't done. In the future he'd like to try to raise even more money for other charities.
"I'm not a limelight guy," he said. "This is a promise I made to her."
Look, I'm not hear to beat anyone over the head with this thing, but just because today is Super Bowl Sunday doesn't mean we can't continue the Souper Bowl, does it?
How 'bout we all take a cue from Brad and Pauline Larsen and give a little of our time and money to help others.
Enjoy the game.
Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner's sports columnist. He also covers the Utah Jazz and the NBA. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at email@example.com. He tweets at http://twitter.com/jmb247