Thursday's practice time will be unlike any the Morton High School boys basketball team has experienced.
The Potters will have a basketball in their hands, but they will leave the comforts of the gymnasium for the arctic blast of January.
Morton is hosting the inaugural GameBall Run, an effort to raise awareness and money for the Children's Hospital of Illinois.
The Dunlap boys basketball team also is participating,
"It's nice to know we can give back to a worthy cause outside of basketball that can make a difference," MHS senior Brent Waibel said.
At about 2:20 p.m. Thursday, the Potters will take off from the high school. They will dribble a basketball from there to the hospital 11.4 miles away in Peoria and meet Dunlap at about 4:30 p.m.
Morton plans to dribble as a team in town when the journey begins and when it arrives across the Illinois River in Peoria.
In between, one player at a time will take a turn for about a half-mile. A bus will follow, transporting the rest of the squad.
"These are the type of things we should be doing as a program," MHS head coach Jarrett Brown said. "I would love for this to be an annual event."
With the conditioning the boys engage in during the course of the basketball season, neither Waibel nor Brown figured the distance would pose much of a problem.
The forecast for Thursday, according to the National Weather Service, calls for partly sunny skies with a high of 25 degrees.
Once at Children's Hospital of Illinois, the Potters and Eagles will have a dinner together and watch a video presentation.
"It's neat that we get to team up with another team and be able to come together for such a good cause," said Waibel.
Morton will run in honor of all children tended to by Children's Hospital.
This is the first time an event like this has been done locally at the high school level.
Morton, which has a direct connection to the facility's work, like many in the community, took a team visit to the hospital in November.
"It was a tremendous trip," said Brown. "I'm always so impressed with our guys the way they mold into every situation I put them in," said Brown.
The players interacted with patients and even let some girls paint their fingernails.
Brown said while much of the day-to-day basketball stuff is fleeting, these are the sort of endeavors that leave a long-lasting impression.
"I hope they understand the impact they are making," Brown said.
GameBall Run actually is a two-day event.
On Friday after the sophomore boys basketball game, there will be a special 10-15 minute presentation at the Potterdome before the varsity tip-off between Dunlap and Morton, which is set for 7 p.m.
Page 2 of 2 - Individual and corporate sponsors will be recognized and the proceeds from the fundraising activities will be unveiled.
T-shirts still are being sold for $10 that will provide admittance to the Friday contest. They also will be available for purchase on game night.
All sales go directly to Children's Hospital.