Hometown police chief Chuck Forsyth takes a swing during the Battle of the Burbs softball game. | Hannah Kohut/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 15, 2013 6:32AM
With a score of 26-12, the south suburban police and fire chiefs won the first ever Battle of the Burbs softball game Saturday night at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood. Pitted against their fellow mayors and municipal clerks, the two teams were able draw in more than $4,000 in donations to the Special Olympics of Illinois.
Crestwood mayor Lou Presta said he hopes to make the game a yearly event.
“I think everyone had a blast,” Presta said. “They all want to do it again next year, so that means I’ll be getting together a committee to plan the next game.”
An estimated 300 people showed up to watch their hometown leaders go up against each other. Robert Bromley, of Frankfort, said he was pulling for the fire and police chiefs.
“I am an ex-firemen, so I’m cheering for the fire and police,” Bromley said. “This brings back shades of when I played softball 40 years ago.”
The Bromley house was a divided one; his wife, Emily, was pulling for the mayors’ team.
“I’m thinking, ‘why not,’ ” Emily Bromley said. “They’re coming in from all over for a good cause.”
The star of the night, however, wore no uniform. She was Carie Ganser, 38, of Tinley Park, and as of June, she had won 118 medals competing in Special Olympics of Illinois. Her latest feat — bench pressing her personal best of 85 pounds at the state competition in Bloomington.
“I’ve done 12 sports, but currently I do volleyball and bowling,” Ganser said. “Special Olympics, to me, is basically is doing your best and having fun.”
That was exactly her message as addressed the crowd before tossing the ceremonial first pitch.
“I come from a very athletic family,” Ganser told everyone. “Before Special Olympics I just at on the sidelines and cheered for them. Now, my family cheers for me, and I can do well and win medals.”
Gunson, who serves on the board of directors for the Special Olympics of Illinois, also thanked Special Olympics for providing her with speech-writing skills.
“I was able to make a speech at my sister’s wedding as her maid of honor,” Gunson said.
At the end of the day, Crestwood police detective Chris Soderlund said the night was all about awareness.
“This is the first time you’ve had all the mayors, police and fire come together and learn about the Torch Run program, and that it’s not just about one day; there can be everyday fundraising for the Special Olympics.”
Soderlund got to the game just in the nick of time; he woke up Saturday morning in Italy.
“We got to Chicago at one, went home, unpacked and got here at 4 to set up,” Soderlund said.
Soderlund said the proceeds were divided equally between all towns to be used as part of their yearly donation to the Special Olympics.