“I’ve got a strategy…we’re going to let you guys smoke us two years in a row, then use that to convince the city to finally give us a gym.” -Interim Police Chief Marty Skibba to Assistant Fire Chief Joe Gemza, along the first base line of Saturday’s Guns & Hoses charity softball game.
By Brandi Makuski
While various vendors offering free S’mores, t-shirts and assistance with local veteran program lined a makeshift fairway at Bukolt Park, most of the attention was focused on the softball diamond.
And rightly so. Hundreds turned out for the 2nd annual Guns’n Hoses charity softball game, which pitted the city’s police against city firefighters in an exhibition game designed for raise money for the Never
Forgotten Honor Flight.
The event raise $29,000- $6,000 of which goes to the Honor Flight, which flies war veterans free of charge to Washington, D.C. for a day of site-seeing at nation’s memorials. Another $23,000 was presented to Michael Clements, the Portage Co. Veterans Services Officer. That money will stay local for use in the county’s Veterans Relief Fund.
Firefighters got on the board early and were up by 9 by the time the ‘Guns’ crossed home plate in the third inning. Sgt. Tony Babl pitched for the police dept. team, while Casey Beilen took the mound for the firefighters. Both had trouble with high winds, which at one point took down the outfield fencing.
Former Mayor Gary Wescott and former police office Ron Carlson called color from the press box. Former Police Chief Kevin Ruder also offered humorous commentary from the field. Mayor Mike Wiza was the home plate umpire, his wife Chris watched over third base and Police & Fire Commission Joe Kirschling was the first base umpire.
Mid-State Sisters of Skate served hamburgers and hot dogs cooked by Marine Corps veterans and King Cone sold ice cream cones.
Including last year’s game and fundraising drive, Guns’n Hoses has raised $73,000 for veterans.