CEDAR RAPIDS — Students at Harding Middle School had high hopes going into their annual Kids vs. Cops dodgeball tournament.
“We think it’s going to be Harding’s year this year,” said Megan Feldmann, an 8th-grade student at Harding and member of the student council.
Unfortunately for the students, the members of the Cedar Rapids Police Department had other plans. Though outnumbered by the students, the dozen or so police officers who participated in the tournament managed to win for the third straight year.
Ultimately, the biggest winners of the day were officers in the department’s K-9 Unit, many of whom participated in the dodgeball tournament. For 12 years now, funds raised by the tournament have gone to the K-9 program. In those years, Harding students have donated more than $20,000 to the K-9 program.
Roughly $1,700 was raised this year. Students must pay $3 to observe or participate in the tournament.
“We look forward to it,” said Sgt. Chris Bieber, a former K-9 officer who oversees the K-9 unit. “It’s good to work fun.”
K-9 officer Chris Carton said police look forward to participating in the tournament each year.
“We just get to get out and play some good old-fashioned dodgeball,” he said.
Bieber said the funds donated to the K-9 program go to essential items like bulletproof vests and other equipment for the dogs to simple things like leashes and food bowls.
“Anything you can think of related to a dog,” he said.
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While the tournament is all in fun, neither the students nor the police officers hold back, as evidenced by the white dodgeballs whizzing through the air in both directions during the matchups.
Not that the students mind. Harding student council president Allison Rohrssen said the annual tournament has a festive, holiday-like feel to it.
“Most kids wait all year for this,” Rohrssen said.
Although there’s an obvious financial benefit to the dodgeball tournament, Bieber and Carton said the ultimate goal is building relationships with the middle school students and hoping those relationships last into high school and adulthood.
“They can say these are good guys,” Bieber said.
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