Police, firefighters face off in softball tournament to benefit Make-A-Wish
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Local law enforcement, firefighters and emergency responders are playing ball in a "Guns and Hoses" tournament to benefit the region's Make-A-Wish foundation.
Ali Wymer, a 14-year-old student at George Washington High School, and Tre' Perkins, 2, of South Charleston, threw out the first pitch of the softball tournament Saturday morning at Appalachian Power Park.
Ali has been in remission for six years since she was diagnosed with lymphoma, but says she'll always be a "Make-A-Wish kid."
"I love being able to help the other kids. It makes me happy to see them have fun and not have to worry about [chemotherapy]. When you're young, it's really hard to understand," she said. "I knew that I was different. I remember what it was like to have kids ask why I didn't have any hair. I want to make sure these kids know they're going to be okay."
Ali is one of hundreds of children with life-threatening medical conditions that the Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia Make-A-Wish chapter helps each year.
Last year, the Southern West Virginia office made 80 wishes come true in the 23 counties it serves, according to Marisa Pedro, Charleston's regional manager.
"Kanawha County is our number one county we grant wishes to. Right now, we have 22 kids here on our wish waiting list," she said. "Local public safety organizations are always giving, but this tournament is a great way to give back locally and get people talking about what Make-A-Wish can do."
Charleston's Make-A-Wish has made a big difference in the Perkins' family's lives since Tre' was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, -- a cancer that develops in the nerve tissue -- last October.
"We've basically adopted Marisa," said Tre's mom, Christie. "Tre' is only 2, so we're waiting until he's old enough to choose what his wish should be. But, they are already helping us tremendously. At 10-o-clock at night when I need to vent, I can call them. They've become wonderful friends."
Police officers from Charleston, Nitro, St. Albans and the Kanawha and Putnam county sheriff's offices joined the "Guns" team to face off against the "Hoses," which included Pinch, Clendenin, Handley and Cedar Grove fire departments as well as EMT's from the Kanawha Ambulance Authority.
Kanawha Deputy Chris Gregory said local volunteer fire departments have been playing in softball tournaments against each other for years, and he decided the friendly competition should be used to help others.
"All of us guys in public service always see each other during the bad stuff. When we're working with each other, its somebody's tragedy," he said. "This is a chance to smile, have a good time and let the bad stuff go for a day, and we want the public to be here with us for that."
The winners from the 14 teams in the single elimination tournament will compete in the championship Sunday.
Also Saturday, a moment of silence was held to honor State Police Cpl. Marshall Bailey and Trooper Eric Workman, who were killed in the line of duty late last month.
Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children. Concessions and the Family Fun Zone will also be available.
All proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Reach Mackenzie Mays at Mackenzie.firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5100.