Olivia Chavez, 11 months,
reaches out to Sparky, a mascot for the South Haven Fire Department, as she's
cradled by her father, Jeremy, during halftime of a charity basketball game
between the South Haven Fire Department and the Porter County sheriff's
Department at the South Haven Boys & Girls Club.
Hoops with a heart
BY BARBARA MARTIN
firefighters flame out in game against sheriff's deputies
Sheriff’s deputies turned up the heat this week in a charity basketball game
against the South Haven Fire Department.
and firefighters took to the court in a Battle of the Badges to raise money for
the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. They got an assist from the
members of the South Haven Boys & Girls Club, where the game was held, who sold
concessions to add a little extra cash to the charity coffers. Together, they
raised $396 for the cause.
"We always try to get the kids involved in as many community events as possible
to give them the experience," said Nicole Slack, program director.
also get involved with community events to serve as examples to the youngsters,
At least 30 club members were on hand at Tuesday's basketball game, selling
tickets, cooking food and hawking concessions.
Tyler Goodman, 9, carried a handmade sign advertising the hot dogs, nachos and
other munchies available as he walked along the sidelines of the basketball
court. Sales were brisk, he said. Within 15 minutes of the start of the game,
club members already had sold half of the 98 hot dogs they had prepared for the
"The kids helped us out so much that all I had to do today was show up," said
Jennifer Collette, a South Haven firefighter who organized the event. "The kids
really have done so much."
The bleachers were filled with fans cheering the players who played four
eight-minute quarters with a 20-minute halftime that featured an appearance by
Sparky the Fire Dog, a costumed mascot for the fire department. The All-Star
Angels cheer squad performed a halftime show. Firefighters handed out plastic
firefighter hats, and the deputies passed out police badges to the youngsters.
Although the firefighters had a deeper bench, with 11 players compared to the
sheriff's department's six, the deputies took an early lead and didn't let it
go. The final score was 70-32 in the deputies' favor.
"They beat us to death," Fire Chief Doug Patton said.
Being the underdogs didn't lessen the fan support. Morgan Eastridge, 12, whose
father, Craig Morris, is South Haven Fire Department's assistant chief of
operations, held a sign cheering for her favorite firefighters to win.
"We want them to win, and we need money for Relay for Life," said Kelsie Patton,
12, Patton's daughter. "We've been practicing a long time, and we know our
The deputies went home with a traveling trophy for their win over the
firefighters, but Patton said he's hopeful his department will win it back in
future match-ups. The departments have agreed to host similar events throughout
the year to raise money for various charities, he said.
"Maybe we can get our trophy back," he said.