Police, firefighters meet in charity football game

Altoona’s finest hit the gridiron Sunday with police and firefighters battling it out to raise money for a some very special kids.

It was the Guns Vs. Hoses Charity Flag Football game and members of the Mountain City Lodge No. 8, Fraternal Order of Police – representing officers in Altoona and Logan Township – along with the Altoona Professional Firefighters Local No. 299 of the International Association of Firefighters took to the field at Mansion Park to raise money for The Miracle League of Blair County and claim the annual game’s trophy for another year.

“The winners are the kids,” said Sam McClure, retired Altoona police officer and organizer of the event. “Of course, everyone wants to win. It’s a good rivalry.”

The game, now in its eighth year, started as an idea to raise some money for a local charity and has grown over the years, the last seven of which have benefited The Miracle League, McClure said. Last year, the game raised about $4,500 dollars and this year, thanks to additional fundraising by Altoona firefighters, the game raised $10,000.

Hoses team member Tim Hughes said the firefighters raised $4,600, about three times more than usual, during their donation drive, one where funds previously went to a national charity. This year, they decided to dub their Fill the Boot campaign as “Fill the Field,” and give the money raised to The Miracle League to go toward the cost of replacing its field on California Avenue.

“It’s more of a hometown thing,” Hughes said of the decision to keep the money local. “Both professions are dangerous, and you have to keep your head on. This is a time for us to relax. It’s a good bunch of guys.”

Several hundred “fans” cheered on their teams as the Guns and Hoses traded turnovers and touchdowns, but it was the Guns who came out ahead in the end, 19-13.

“I really want to thank the police and firefighters for what they’re doing for us,” said Joe Reed of the Miracle League.

Reed noted the organization’s field, where special needs children gather to enjoy the thrills of baseball, needed replacement, an undertaking that cost $140,000. While most of the cost has been covered by individual and business donations, the money raised Sunday means a lot to the organization.

“This will probably put us at our goal,” said Reed, adding that the game means more than dollars to the The Miracle League.

“The support of the firefighters and police is important, if not more important, to us,” Reed said.

Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.