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Firefighters and deputies hit field for charity game; Football kickoff today

By Staff | Mar 21, 2008

Lee County sheriff’s deputies and firefighters will be hitting the gridiron tonight for their 11th annual charity football game.

The full-contact game is set to take place at the Lee Civic Center at 11831 Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers at 7:30 p.m. Admission price is $10 for adults and free for children under 12.

The proceeds collected by each team are set to go to several charity causes.

“The community really is wonderful in supporting this event,” said Lt. Augie Malagon of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, a coach and founding member of the team. “It’s gotten bigger and bigger every year.”

Malagon said the game began with about 100 to 150 attendees, but that number has grown in recent years to nearly 6,000 cheering Lee County residents. He said the game is expected to sell out this year.

“It’s a highly competitive game,” said Malagon. “It’s not just a bunch of fat guys running around.”

He said many of the players on the team have high school or college football experience, with 27 players and two coaches. The team has been training for the game for about three and a half months.

When asked about playing for charity, Malagon said, “It’s something we love to do.”

“Everybody involved is just really excited,” said Rob Medina, an Estero firefighter playing linebacker for the Lee County Fire Department in tonight’s game. “We’re really excited that the Florida Stingrays and the Lee Civic Center are giving us a chance to have this event.”

Medina also thanks the event’s major sponsor, Servpro.

The fire department team has 26 players and three coaches, said Medina.

Money collected by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office will go to the family of Deputy Margena Nunez, who was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver at a fatal crash scene on Oct. 22, 2007, according to Susan Lindenmuth, spokesperson for the Estero Fire Department.

Meanwhile, the Lee County Fire Department proceeds from the game will benefit the families of Lt. Paul Reynolds of the Estero Fire and Rescue, and Fire Inspector Neil Little of the Lehigh Acres Fire Department, said Lindenmuth.

Reynolds died in February of 2007 while off duty, according to Lindenmuth.

Little, an 18-year Lehigh Acres Fire Department employee, was diagnosed with cancer and has been transferred to the Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa Bay, she said. Little has a wife and 8-year-old son who are with him in Tampa.