Everyone could use a good “seventh-inning stretch” from their day-to-day grind — even our local police officers, firefighters and first responders.
For members of Jasper County law enforcement offices, fire departments and emergency medical services, that moment of relaxation comes in the form of a charity softball tournament.
Coordinator Jeremy Burdess, who works as a detective at the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, said up to four teams are expected to compete in the friendly tournament at 1 p.m. Aug. 4 at the Newton Softball Complex, North 19th Avenue East.
“We’ve all combined to make up some different teams and play each other,” Burdess said. “Some of the smaller police departments and fire departments in the county, we told them it was acceptable to combine their teams to make one.”
Proceeds from free will admissions and concessions, he said, will benefit the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program in Jasper County. As vice-president of D.A.R.E. Iowa, Burdess said the program itself is free to all the area schools; however, the books and T-shirts given to the kids who participate in the program is what ultimately costs money.
The D.A.R.E. education program was founded in Los Angeles as a means to resist violent behaviors and activities and to prevent the use of drugs and controlled substances. D.A.R.E.’s mission has been adopted into classrooms across the country since its initial launch in 1983. Burdess said Jasper County has been implementing the program since the late 1990s.
Although promoted as a charity, Burdess sees the softball tournament as a way for surrounding communities to connect and to know their local law enforcement, firefighters and emergency service providers.
“With our uniforms, they see us one way, but this is an opportunity to just see us as regular people,” Burdess said. “There is a lot of stuff in the news right now with negative stuff about cops. We’re just out here trying to do the best we can, and this is a good way to meet the community and to get to know us.”
In addition to a couple friendly games of softball, the tournament will also host a cookout with burgers and hot dogs and other eats. Daren the D.A.R.E. Lion, the educational program’s mascot, will also make an appearance during the games as well as the Iowa League of Heroes, a team of Marvel and DC superhero cosplayers with “screen accurate suits.”
Burdess said, “I’m just looking forward to seeing how many people come out. We really want the community to come out and talk to the members. Come out and enjoy watching law enforcement, fire (and) EMS guys have fun and support a good cause.”
Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or firstname.lastname@example.org