Veterans challenge Dearborn police, fire in softball to benefit wounded soldiers

DEARBORN – The public is invited to watch Dearborn police officers and firefighters, and veterans from across the state, come together on Saturday, Oct. 25 to compete for the first Michigan Warriors vs. Guns & Hoses Charity Softball Game.

Gates open at 5 p.m. for the 6 p.m. game at King Boring Field, adjacent to the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Ave.

The game pits military veterans against members of the Dearborn Police and Fire departments.

Admission is free, with donations accepted at the gate.

All of the proceeds will be donated to the American Legion Michigan Wounded and Returning Warrior Program.

The family-friendly event includes a display of military, police, fire and SWAT vehicles; hot dogs, chips and drinks; and an auction that includes an autographed Detroit Lions football, four rounds of golf at Crystal Mountain Resort and reservations at The Echo’s Place Restaurant.

An escort of American Legion Riders, police and firefighters will bring in the game ball for a ceremonial opening. The first pitch will be thrown out by representative veterans of every conflict from the World War II era till today.

Organizing the event are Dearborn firefighter Mike Mattern; Dearborn Police Cpl. Jason Skoczylas; Gary Tanner, founder of the Michigan Wounded and Returning Warrior Program and chairman of the American Legion Department of Michigan Reconnect Committee; and Sean Green, Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council commander.

Skoczylas said many veterans continue their public service by joining the police and fire departments. He sums up the origin of the benefit softball game, “It’s heroes raising money for heroes.”

The Michigan Warriors team is composed of veterans from across the state, including some that have been assisted by the Michigan Wounded and Returning Warrior Program.

Green has high praise for Mayor John O’Reilly Jr., Police Chief Ron Haddad and Fire Chief Joseph Murray for their “outstanding support” and determination to create this first-time event.

“We are all first responders,” Tanner said. “The bond is always there for people in uniform who put their lives on the line every day. Each one of these men and women wrote a blank check, including the giving of our lives to protect our country and citizens.

“We are used to giving back to the community. Even though our term of service is done, our watch is never over.”

The Michigan Wounded and Returning Warrior Program, working with the Michigan Psychological Association Foundation, provides group retreats to help people recover from post-traumatic stress disorder at the American Legion Wilwin Lodge, individual and family retreats, adaptive golf clinics and therapeutic lessons in partnership with the Millman No Restrictions Golf Foundation, home adaptation, and emergency financial assistance.

The Michigan Wounded and Returning Warrior Program, which depends on private donations, also has seen much success with its community awareness presentations on PTSD and combat trauma.

“That support is important in a state like Michigan, where along with North Carolina, we have the highest number of National Guard and Reserve personnel,” Tanner said.

As these service men and women reintegrate into the community, the Michigan Wounded and Returning Warrior Program “provides stability and prevents families from disintegrating as their loved ones heal,” Tanner said.

Activities like the charity softball game allow people to be part of this mission.

“It’s also important for people to realize there are ways they can help,” Tanner said. “In addition to a lot of fun, that’s what this softball game will do.”

The Michigan Warriors vs. Guns & Hoses Charity Softball Game is made possible by donations from ACO, Smashbox Designs, Detroit’s Own Clothing, Moose’s Martini Pub, Jorgensen Ford, La Shish Dearborn, Byblos Banquet Center, Dearborn Public Schools, Oakwood Healthcare, Dearborn Police Charities, Dearborn Firefighters Burn Drive, Bloomfield Township Police Benevolent Association and Park Place Catering.
 
Additional information about the softball game is available by calling Green at 248-210-8791.