IOWA CITY

'Battle of the Badges' to benefit Iowa City police, fire support groups

Softball fundraiser is Wednesday

“Battle of the Badges” T-shirts to be given away at Iowa City fundraiser
“Battle of the Badges” T-shirts to be given away at Iowa City fundraiser

IOWA CITY — When members of the Iowa City police and fire departments square off in a softball game Wednesday evening — the Battle of the Badges — more than bragging rights will be on the line.

The two public service agencies are hoping to raise money for organizations within their respective departments that help police officers and firefighters in a time of need or crisis.

“We go through a lot,” said Iowa City Police Officer Ashley Jay. “We see a lot.”

Jay, the organizer of Battle of the Badges, said the police department’s peer support team started about a year ago. The purpose is to provide aid to an officer who had a difficult call for service or some other job-related trauma. She pointed to a recent officer-involved shooting in which an Iowa City police officer was seriously injured by a BB gun.

By supporting one another, it allows officers to continue to do their jobs and help others in the community during their time of need, Jay said.

“You can’t pour from an empty cup,” she said. “Our job (in the peer support team) is to keep an officer’s cup full.”

Jay said forms of support can range from referring officers to different forms of counseling, arranging meals for them and their families or simply checking in on them. Funds also go to purchasing water and snacks for officers in the middle of a long call.

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“Little things can cost money,” Jay said, noting the police department administration often picks up the tab. “We’re taking that stress off of the administration so they can do what they need to do.”

The firefighters will be playing for their benevolent association, which includes past and present firefighters and their families, said Iowa City Fire Department Capt. Tina Humston.

Humston said the benevolent association provides financial assistance if someone is diagnosed with a major illness, sends flowers when someone has a death in the family or makes a donation in honor of a past member who has died.

“Because we’re such a close-knit family and community, even after you retire or even if you’re the spouse of a firefighter, you’re still a part of that community,” Humston said.

Those acts of support go a long way in helping the affected firefighter, so they can remain focused on their job when they’re on duty, Humston said.

“What’s good for one is good for all,” she said.

Jay and Humston said their respective agencies have had fundraisers for their support groups in the past, but this is the first time the agencies have joined forces for a joint fundraiser.

Wednesday’s event at 6 p.m. at Mercer Park will feature McGruff, fire trucks and squad cars and food from Hy-Vee.

Jay said Iowa City Police Chief Jody Matherly was so excited about the event that he ordered 300 shirts — 150 police blue and 150 fire department red — to give away to the public.

The event is free and the departments are accepting freewill donations.

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“I’m mainly just excited for the interaction between police and fire,” Humston said. “We have a great working relationship with them. I think it’ll be fun to have that competitive spirit. Deep down, we work really well with them. It’s important to keep that going.”

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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