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Police, firefighters to go head-to-head Saturday

By Staff | Jan 26, 2011

Local police and firefighters will go head-to-head Saturday during the fifth annual Blues vs. Blaze Gene Griffith Memorial Charity Football Game.
The game, which pits Cape Coral and Fort Myers police officers against the cities’ firefighters, helps raise funds to help those in need in the community. Kick off is at 6 p.m. at Mariner High School, located at 701 Chiquita Blvd. N.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Children under 12 are free.
The firefighters, or “Blaze” team, is playing for the Cape Coral Professional Firefighters Benevolent Fund. The money helps local families in times of need due to homes lost in fires and it assists families in need during the holidays.
“The reason we started it five years ago is we wanted to find a way to raise money for some of the local youth organizations and a few other charities in the city,” engineer Eric Chudzik, of the Cape fire department, said.
The “Blues” team is playing for the Police Athletic League. Last year, game proceeds helped send a girl from Southern Stars Gymnastics to the National Gymnastics meet in New York, where she took the entire competition.
The Police Athletic League, or PAL, also recently helped send a boy to the Citadel for a National Wrestling Camp when his family could not afford to send him.
According to Chudzik, the event raised close to $10,000 last year.
“You’re always looking to do better,” he said of this year’s monetary goal. “But as long as we don’t go down, I think everybody will be happy.”
One giant addition this year is two current NFL players who will serve as honorary coaches. Though the names of the two will remain a secret until game day, Chudzik hinted that they may play for the Redskins and Eagles.
He added that it should be nice for attendees.
“Fans don’t usually get to rub elbows with professionals very much,” he said.
Last year, the Blues defeated the Blaze 7-6. It was their second win in a row.
The Blaze have only won one of the four games played.
Despite the record, Chudzik said the Blaze feel confidant this year.
“Obviously you want to come out with a win,” he said. “We’re hoping to bring the trophy back to our side.”
The players have their own helmets but provide the school with a donation to use their equipment, and the school gets to raise funds through concessions.
T-shirts for the Blues and Blaze teams will be available for sale on game day.
“We try to make it a city event that both kids and families can come out and enjoy,” Chudzik said.
Gates open at Mariner High School at 1 p.m., and tailgating is welcome.
The annual game is named after late firefighter Gene Griffith, according to officials. Griffith was a big advocate of the event and coached the Blaze with his brother for a few seasons. He lost a battle with cancer three years ago.
For more information on the charity game or to make a monetary donation, contact Chudzik at 560-0930.