Cape cops battle Fort Myers firefighters in third annual charity showdown
The men in blue, and red, took to the gridiron on Saturday night to raise money for a host of worthy causes.
The 2009 Gene Griffith Memorial “Blues vs. Blaze” Charity football game kicked off at sunset on Ida Baker High School’s field, as Cape cops and Fort Myers fire fighters faced off for pigskin bragging rights.
Six charities including the Police Athletic League, D.A.R.E, G.R.E.A.T., Child Fingerprinting and Summer Camps, Cape Youth Crime Intervention Program, and Cape Professional Firefighter Benevolent Association benefited from the game.
Organizer Lisa Maglione-Chenault has been nurturing the game since taking over planning duties three years ago.
This year she included Gator Country and a number of sponsors/vendors to insure that each year the game is bigger and better than the last.
“In this economy, anything we can do to raise money for the kids is a big deal,” she said. “Everyone of our guys out on the field do it for the kids. And we thank the chiefs for letting them play.”
Indeed, injuries were a distinct possibility, as the guys played a full contact game that had its fair share of hard hits.
Maglione-Chenaults’s husband, Cape Police Officer Brand Chenault, tore his ACL playing in last year’s game. Yet, that didn’t stop him from suiting up again to play for the boys in blue.
“He hurt his knee last year but he had surgery and he’s back out there again,” Maglione-Chenault said proudly.
Despite a bench clearing late hit at the end of the second quarter that nearly erupted into a brawl, Maglione-Chenault assured the two departments get along very well, united in the cause of a bright future for Lee County’s children.
Cape Police Chief Rob Petrovich echoed that sentiment.
“We’ve been playing this game since 1990, and at the end of the day they’re going to shake hands,” he said. “Its all for a good cause.”
Firefighters came out from all over the county to support their brethren.
Naturally, Fort Myers Beach firefighter Paul Russell wanted to see his boys in red take the crown, but he was just pleased to know proceeds were going toward the benevolent association.
“It’s great, the money is going to good cause. It really helps out families that are going through tough times,” he said.
A former member of the Coast Guard, and now a first year firefighter, Russell heard about the game from other civil service members.
His father Dan came out to support his son, and the many causes.
“It’s a good cause and the crowd is pretty good,” he said.
Despite the fire department’s best efforts, a spokesman said, the game ended with the Cape cops pulling out a narrow 16-14 victory.