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Published July 15 2011

Zach Gabbard, Perham boys basketball team hit big screen in 'For Three'

While the rest of the world obsesses over Harry Potter, folks here care about another teenage boy on the big screen.

Zach Gabbard doesn’t use a magic wand to defeat villains or anything like that. No. His story – in many minds – is far greater than that of a teenage wizard.

Gabbard’s story is real.

“I am very excited,” Gabbard said. “I am super excited.”

He had reason to be excited. Thursday was the debut of “For Three,” a movie about the Perham boys basketball team’s state title-winning season last spring following Gabbard’s collapse at a game earlier that season. Nearly 300 filled the Comet Theater.

Gabbard collapsed in a January game against Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton after suffering a cardiac arrest. While Gabbard recovered in a Twin Cities hospital, his teammates went on to win the first state basketball title in school history.

“To think about what happened to him and think about where he’s at now is amazing,” said guard Jordan Cresap, who replaced Gabbard in the starting lineup. “It really is something you’d see in a movie.”

The anticipation surrounding the movie, which was produced by Perham assistant coach Brent Hanson, made its way through town.

On Facebook, people were talking about watching “For Three.” Across the street at a local diner, it was a conversation topic for others.

Inside the Comet Theatre were autographed portraits of showbiz legends such as Sammy Davis Jr. Outside the building on the marquee was a sign touting the new Harry Potter movie, which was playing at midnight.

But on this night, the Rat Pack or a wizard played second fiddle to the local kids that did good.

“This is the first opportunity we’ve had for something like this,” said Jo Waschle, a Comet Theatre co-owner since 1972. “It doesn’t surprise me one bit about this community to see them come out and support this benefit.”

The movie is also being used as a dual fundraiser for the Perham basketball team and to help pay Gabbard’s medical expenses.

As for Gabbard, he was like anyone waiting to watch a movie. He goofed off with his friends, ate popcorn and had his soda in hand.

Gabbard said he was looking forward to the movie because it would give him a chance to see how the season went given how much time he missed.

Gabbard said that his daily rehab is going well. As for when he would return to basketball, that’s still up in the air.

“Right now, I don’t know,” Gabbard said.

Jordan Hein, who plays on the basketball team, said every player on the team was happy to have Gabbard at the film and they were excited to see how it turned out.

Hein said sharing the movie experience with his teammates is something he’ll cherish for a while.

How can he not? It might be the greatest story ever told in Perham.

“It’s a miracle to see him walking and communicating with everyone,” Hein said. “He likes it, he likes all the attention. We’re all cool with it.”

Well, everyone except for Mr. Potter that is.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.

Clark’s Force blog can be found at slightlychilled.areavoices.com