Softball soiree: Cops, firemen, ex-Hawks play for charity
BY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent August 31, 2014 5:44PM
Pictured are members of the Chicago Blackhawks Alumni Association and a combined team of Chicago police and firefighters at the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks Charity Softball Classic. | Supplied photo
If you go ...
What: Seventh annual Blackhawks Alumni & Friends Charity Softball Classic
When: 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sept. 14
Where: Richard R. Ferrell Memorial Field, St. Xavier University, 3700 W. 103rd St., Chicago
Etc.: Admission is free.
Updated: September 2, 2014 2:09AM
When members of the Chicago Blackhawks Alumni Association take the field against members of the Chicago police and fire departments on Sept. 14, it’s expected that a good time will be had by all to benefit some great causes.
Alumni Association vice president Jack O’Callahan said the seventh annual Blackhawk Alumni & Friends Charity Softball Classic is “a family day ... to raise money ... but also to raise awareness” for the Chicago Firefighters’ Ende, Menzer, Walsh & Quinn Retirees,’ Widows’ and Children’s Assistance Fund (www.widowsandchildren.org) and the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation ( www.cpdmemorial.org) and related police and fire charities.
O’Callahan said that about seven years ago, he and Tony Martin, president of the EMWQ Retirees’, Widows’ and Children’s Assistance Fund, discussed the plight of families of fallen firefighters and police.
“We love the firefighters and police in this town,” O’Callahan said. “They do so much for us.”
O’Callahan said the Chicago Blackhawks Alumni Association wanted to help the families of those who lost their lives while serving the community as well as those whose died from other causes while in service.
“People really like to help these police officers and firefighters,” O’Callahan said. “It’s important for the men and women on the job to know the community does actually stand behind them.”
The benefit is to be held from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at Richard R. Ferrell Memorial Field on the main campus of St. Xavier University, 3700 W. 103rd St., Chicago.
Former Blackhawks O’Callahan, Brian Noonan, Reid Simpson, Cliff Koroll, Murray Bannerman, Troy Murray, Reggie Kerr, Grant Mulvey, Mark Lavarre and many others are expected to participate.
The free event includes food, giveaways, player autographs and inflatables for the children. Raffle tickets are $10 and offer chances at skybox tickets to Blackhawks and other Chicago teams’ games and autographed sports memorabilia.
Special units from the police and fire departments are scheduled to participate, and a variety of antique fire and police equipment will be on display, according to a press release about the event.
Included in the festivities is the annual Chicago Fire Department vs. Chicago Police Department City-Wide 16-inch Softball Championship at 11:30 a.m., followed by a ceremony featuring the Bagpipes & Drums of the Emerald Society, Chicago Police Department, and the charity softball game.
Martin said the benefit has grown every year, with about 1,800 people attending last year. About $300,000 has been raised for the charitable organizations over the previous six years.
“The goals are very important,” Martin said. “We have several hundred widows that are living basically in or near poverty. We’ve got about a hundred kids who have lost their parents while they were in service with the Chicago Fire Department.”
Both the firefighters and police charitable organizations assist the families regardless of the cause of death while in service, Martin said.
“Our goal is to try to make sure these kids have the same opportunities they would have had had their parents made it to retirement,” Martin said.
Martin credits the Chicago Blackhawks Alumni Association for making that happen.
“The CBAA is just unlike any other,” Martin said. “These former hockey players, they get together and they support worthy causes like ours. ... and they really believe in what we’re doing. And they’ve really supported us. They’ve stayed in Chicago and they’re giving back to the community in so many ways.”
O’Callahan and Martin said the event’s emphasis is heavy on fun and light on competition, with players from both sides bringing kids out of the stands to run bases for them.
“It’s just a fun, family-oriented community event,” O’Callahan said. “It’s just a good opportunity to let everybody know that police and firemen, they have families, too.”