GREAT FALLS — Every year thousands of athletes across the state sell MTN Chevy raffle tickets for one of Special Olympics Montana’s largest annual fundraisers. And when the organization releases the names of the top sellers, you can always find Jon Hargett’s at or near the top of the list.
Every weekday morning, Hargett takes the 7:08 a.m. inbound bus to downtown Great Falls, and gets to work.
You can hear the jingle of his medals and you can see the confidence in his stride as he travels from business to business getting owners, employees and customers like old friends.
Jon’s personable nature has led to him being the top seller in the state five times, and he sold the winning truck ticket two years in a row. This year alone, he’s already sold well over 5,000 tickets.
“I sell like 40 tickets a day, or eight books a day,” Hargett said.
Everyone downtown knows Jon, and they look out for him. His home base when he gets downtown is Hoglund’s Work and Western Wear, with owner Mike Marzetta serving as a mentor to Jon.
“Everybody loves John. Truck man, that's what they call him,” Marzetta said. “He's the bravest guy. He can stand up in public and give his speeches and go up to total strangers. Jon's taught me a lot.”
How many tickets has Marzetta and his family purchased from Jon?
“More than I can count,” he laughed.
And Jon loves loves downtown Great Falls right back.
“My support for all the community is the love,” Hargett said. “All the businesses bring me love and joy, seeing them with happy faces, seeing them with all my gold medals and they wanna know what I do in special Olympics.”
But perhaps the people most inspired by Jon, are the ones who were there at the beginning.
“He has a seizure disorder that the children tend to digress developmentally,” said his mother Robin Hargett. “And he started to do that and then it stopped and he started to progress and we just were thrilled. “ John has made so many leaps and bounds since he was little. And when we were told that he may never or talk and now look at him, he spreads the word everywhere.”
And it’s a word that touched countless people in Great Falls and beyond.
We asked Jon where he thinks he would be without special Olympics, and his answer came straight from the heart.
“Without friends,” he said. “I’d be without all of the athletes and coaches and volunteers and unified partners. Without my friends, I don’t think I’d be where I am today.”