MDA, Special Olympics reap benefit of charity event

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By Tris DeRoma

Though only one team won the Battle of the Badges basketball game last week, in reality a lot of people won, according to the officials that helped organize the event, which was held at the Griffith Gym at Los Alamos High School.
Rick Gonzales, a driver and engineer with the Los Alamos Fire Department and one of the organizers of the Battle of the Badges game, said the fundraiser helped two important charities come out on top.
“In the long run, we really feel like it was the MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) and the Special Olympics who really won, even though it was the firefighters who won the game,” he said with a laugh.
The game was between the LAFD and the Los Alamos Police Department and LAFD came away with a 44-32 victory.
But the game was more than about wins and losses.
The game raised $2,200 for the charities and the night also featured a raffle that raised $5,000 for a few children from families in the community who are undergoing expensive medical care.
The firefighters chose the Muscular Dystrophy Association since their union, the International Association of Firefighters, adopted it as its charity in the 1950s.
Firefighters in Los Alamos belong to IAFF Local 3279.
The police as well have a long affiliation with Special Olympics, one of the biggest events being the Special Olympics’ “Torch Run,” which was adopted by the International of Chiefs of Police in the early 1980s.
Gonzales said this was the first time in five years there has been a basketball game between the departments in Los Alamos.
Even though he said it was a lot of work to get it off the ground, he is looking to make the game an annual event. Judging by the response he received from asking the support of local businesses and community agencies, he said that should be no problem.
“I was very successful in getting them on board,” Gonzales said. “I also wanted to impress upon them our desire to do this on an annual basis here on out,” he said.
Though he joked that he would have liked for the police department to have won, Cpl. Preston Ballew said he too was glad the event was a success and is looking forward to next year, as well as other planned sporting events with the fire department.
The next event will be a July 4 softball game.
“It’s a good time for the community to come together, it benefits some good causes and that’s primarily what it’s all about,” Ballew said, adding that it also gives the opportunity for the police and the fire departments to interact in an event that doesn’t involve a crisis of some sort.
However, that doesn’t mean the LAPD doesn’t take its athletic events seriously. Ballew said the department is looking forward to the July softball game.
“Just because we lost the basketball game, doesn’t mean we’re going to lay down for the softball game,” joked Ballew.
LAPD Det. Oliver Morris, who also helped organize the game, said none of it would have been possible without the help of the following businesses and community supporters: Los Alamos County, Los Alamos National Laboratory Community Programs Office, Los Alamos Co-op, Smith’s, Hot Rocks Java Cafe, Metzgers, Los Alamos National Bank, Del Norte Credit Union, Zia Credit Union, CB Fox, Reel Deal Theater and The William Deal Family.