Giving Back: More than $13K raised in support of firefighters’ families
Published 12:13 am Wednesday, November 16, 2016
RESERVE — St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre was still recovering Monday morning.
His legs hurt and his back hurt, but his pride was just fine and his office had a big shiny trophy to help ease his pain.
The St. John Sheriff’s Office successfully wrested the Guns and Hoses trophy from the St. John Fire Department Saturday at the revival of the annual police vs. fire fighters flag football game.
The Sheriff’s Office defeated the Fire Department, 22-6, to take back the trophy the fire fighters had held (and allegedly hidden away) since the last game was played before Hurricane Isaac hit the area.
“We got our bragging rights back,” Tregre said. “Even though the Parish President (Natalie Robottom) took our trophy and we had to go find it.”
Saturday’s game was the highlight of an all-day flag football tournament pitting police against fire fighters from around the area. The event was held to raise money for Nick Saale and Mack Beale, the two fire fighters injured while working a crash scene on Interstate 10 in August, and the family of District Chief Spencer Chauvin, who was killed in the crash.
Two teams from the SJSO — the Pink Panthers and the Top Guns — along with the St. John Firefighters, St. Charles Sheriff’s Office, Slidell Fire Department, Hammond Police Department and Kenner Fire Department competed in the tournament.
Kids attending also were given time on the field for punt, pass and kick competitions during half time of games.
Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Chip Wale, who helped organize the event, said more than $13,000 was raised.
“We are still counting,” he said Monday. “Money is still coming in from the sponsors and the vendors. It was a wonderful day.”
St. John Fire Chief Cane Dufrene, meanwhile, was licking his wounds Monday after his team handed over the trophy to the Sheriff’s Office, but he also was pretty happy.
“It was a great day,” Dufrene said. “It was great to kick back and relax and have fun with the guys. We had departments from neighboring towns come out to support us, so that was great. Ultimately, we didn’t pull it off, though.”
While teams from St. Charles, St. John, Hammond and Slidell aired it out on the football field at Joe Keller Memorial Stadium, fans and family members enjoyed a wide variety of food from dozens of local vendors and were able to shop for souvenirs with the official Guns and Hoses logo.
There also was a silent auction of Saints and other sports memorabilia.
A Canadian National miniature train provided entertainment for the kids.
Also in attendance was Saints Super Fan Jarrius Robertson, accompanied by a camera crew from ESPN’s Outside the Lines, which has been following him for a feature story.
He arrived on a fire truck with much fanfare, then took off all his fire gear and changed into Sheriff’s Office gear before giving the teams a pep talk.
“He berated us into playing better,” Wale said.
It worked, as the Sheriff’s Office took the game and the trophy behind the play of rookie deputy, Drew Rel.
“He’s a rookie police officer and a rookie player,” Tregre said.
“He had the fresh legs.”
The fire department even got Jennifer Chauvin, the widow of Spencer Chauvin, onto the field for a few plays.
“It was great to see her out there having fun,” Dufrene said.
There even was a marriage proposal at halftime, with deputy Tony Grandolfo dropping to one knee for fellow deputy Mikki Pritchett. (She said, ‘yes.’)
The fire fighting team from Slidell won the overall tournament trophy, which was presented by Beale.
Wale said he was thrilled with the success of the event.
“It was great to see everybody come together for the families and the guys who were injured,” Wale said. “Yeah, there’s a rivalry between the firemen and the police, but we’re really just one big family.”