If you think you've seen a car driving around Helena that looks like it's straight out of a scene from "Ghostbusters," it's not just your imagination.
You probably just found the crew from the Montana Ghostbusters on their way to visit a sick child.
A nonprofit group with 17 members, the Montana Ghostbusters have chapters all over the state, from Billings to Missoula, Great Falls, Butte and Helena.
Chad Shafer is the founder of the Montana Ghostbusters. He started the group in 2013 and recruited any fans of the movie who want “to make a difference in their community while using the love of Ghostbusters.”
Dustin Semans is the Montana Ghostbusters co-lead and is head of the Helena division. Semans has always loved “Ghostbusters” and passed that love on to his son, Nate.
Nate was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect that wasn’t allowing enough oxygen to enter his bloodstream. The Semans had to go to Salt Lake City’s Children’s Hospital for Nate’s surgery to fix the issue. Dustin was familiar with a group called the Salt Lake Ghostbusters, and knowing how much Nate liked the movie, he gave them a call.
“They showed up the night before the surgery with 12 of their members and Ecto. The next day when Nate went in to surgery, he said, ‘Dad, I am going to be alright. I can do this. I am a Ghostbuster now!’ Seeing what they did for my boy, I knew I had to join MTGB and see if we could do the same,” Semans said.
After seeing how Nate responded to the Salt Lake Ghostbusters, Dustin decided he had to get involved with the group somehow. Because Ghostbuster groups are licensed through a Sony subdivision called Ghostcorps, groups pop up all over the United States, which is how Semans was able to find Shafer.
“I got into contact with Chad and he let us start a Helena Division of the Montana Ghostbusters,” Semans said. “We wanted to help the community, raise money to help with medical debt regarding children as well as help children with moral support with their disabilities/illness.”
The Montana Ghostbusters show up all over, kitted up in homemade Ghostbusters gear and in a couple of tricked out cars modified to look like the famous “Ghostbusters” hearse. The group even has a special patch that has a cowboy hat on it, a nod to the Montana nature of their existence.
The team also helps raise money for people with major medical issues and is willing to spend time with children who are bullied, all at no cost. They will even make an appearance at birthday parties or other events in return for a donation to a charity they support.
But the real emotional center of their work is the unexpected happiness they bring to people around Montana.
“Anytime I put the suit on, it’s memorable. You never know what’s going to happen or whose day you may make but it is always a memorable experience,” Semans said.