Iowa First Responders Compete in Softball Games for Charity
July 19—For the third year in a row, local law enforcement officers will take on local firefighters and emergency workers in a best-of-three softball series at Community Field to raise money for charity.
Dubbed Boots vs. Badges, the relatively new event has made a big splash in the community. Gates open at 10 a.m. Saturday, and price of admission is $5 person. The games will begin at 11 a.m. and will last until about 6 p.m. Children ages 4 and younger get in for free.
The game has benefited a different cause every year, from obtaining a police dog to funding the Bridges of Poverty program.
This year, the proceeds will be used to help pay medical expenses for Burlington Police officer Bill Venvertloh, who has been battling cancer.
"I can't raise money without the community's help," said Cale Heitmeier, a captain with the West Burlington Fire Department and firefighter for the Burlington Fire Department.
Heitmeier, founder and organizer of the event, hopes to raise at least $15,000 with the annual fundraiser.
"I want this to be a morale booster," said Heitmeier. "Everyone in the public service field works really hard here, and it will be nice to take a break."
Heitmeier is anticipating about 80 players from pretty much every law enforcement, fire and emergency service agency in Des Moines County (with a few guest players from outside the county), and the winners will take home a 6-foot-tall trophy.
Concessions—including alcohol—will be served as they would be at a regular ball game, and the entire event is expected to last at least four hours.
"People from all over town have been very generous," Heitmeier said.
Heitmeier is hoping the game balls will be delivered via MedForce helicopter, but that depends on whether chopper is responding to an emergency at the time. There will be plenty of games and activities for the kids.
"I'm hoping to have a couple of fire engines and police cruisers there," Heitmeier said.
The friendly rivalry between the police and fire departments has been rather one-sided, as the fire department team has yet to win one of the three game series.
"Maybe we'll have the losers wash the winners' cars," Heitmeier said, giving a friendly stir of the competitive pot.