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Women from police, fire departments ready for Powder Puff game

By Staff | Mar 19, 2009

The women who are usually fighting flames and putting bad guys behind bars will gear up and hit the football field Sunday to raise money for injured firefighter Bob Souza and cancer research.
The 2nd Annual Law En-forcement Powder Puff Football Game pits female employees of the Cape Coral and Fort Myers police departments against the women of various Lee County fire departments.
The game kicks off at Fort Myers High School with festivities to begin at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $10 at the gate for adults and children over 12.
The money raised will be donated to the “For the Kids Foundation” of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, as well as to the family of Bob Souza, a Cape firefighter who was seriously injured in a traffic crash Nov. 20.
Tim Clark, a Cape firefighter and head coach for the fire departments’ “Fully Involved” team, said they are trying to raise as much money as possible to help Souza’s family with the cost of his rehabilitation.
“He’s no longer in need of medical care, he’s in need of rehabilitation,” he said. “The insurance has basically cut off payments because it’s no longer a medical issue.”
Souza suffered brain damage among other injuries during the crash, and he requires treatment to help regain his memory, Clark said. Souza’s rehabilitation costs about $24,000 a month.
“He’s a single dad with two daughters,” he said. “We’re just trying to offset the cost of his treatment.”
Though the game raised more than $10,000 last year, when Cape and Fort Myers police officers faced off against those from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Clark said they are hoping to raise more this year.
He also cited the importance of the Relay for Life program. Clark and fellow firefighters will participate in the event, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Ida S. Baker High School.
Fort Myers Sgt. Sean Hoover, event organizer for this year’s and last year’s game, stressed the importance of contributing to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
Hoover’s son suffers from cancer, and he and other Fort Myers officers will participate in the Fort Myers Relay For Life in April.
Hoover said the powder puff game gives female officers a chance to take the reins on giving back to the community in light of the men’s Blues vs. Blaze Football Game each January.
“We thought we’d get the girls more involved and find something that they can have a starring role in,” he said. “We did it last year, it was a success, and everybody had a really good time and we had a lot of fun, so we decided we’re going to do it every year.”
Cape Sgt. Georgeann Lytle, the game’s local organizer, said the participating female officers have worked hard and are excited to participate in the game.
“Up until last year, the guys do their game every year. But we’ve never really had an opportunity to do something on our own to contribute,” she said. “It was an honor for everyone to participate in the game last year, and when we saw how successful it was last year, everyone was just really excited to do it again.”
Though the game is flag football rather than full-contact, Lytle said the players have been training arduously over the past few months.
“We’ve been practicing since the end of December and it’s like regular football practice, except we’re not doing the contact-type conditioning,” she said. “It’s a lot of running drills. It’s been an extensive process, but I think we’re ready.”
About 400 people attended last year’s game.
“The economy’s down, obviously, but we’re hoping to be just as successful this year, if not more,” Hoover said.
Aside from an enthralling head-to-head football game, which kicks off at about 4 p.m., an all-male cheerleading squad will entertain the crowd with a halftime show.
Hoover is one of a team of several Fort Myers male officers who will dress as female cheerleaders and perform a practiced dance routine for the crowd.
“We kind of take it seriously,” he said. “It’s more than entertainment, it’s a bunch of guys getting together to have fun.”
Educational presentations by the various Lee County public safety offices, including fire safety drills by the Cape Coral Fire Department’s public education program, begin at 2 p.m.