BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Plans are underway for a tri-county event to raise funds for emergency responders in the Lee, Des Moines, and Henry counties this summer in Fort Madison.
Cale Heitmeier, a Burlington firefighter, has been engaged with raising funds for emergency responders for five years through his Boots vs. Badges charity softball event in Burlington.
This year Heitmeier is teaming up with Fort Madison’s RiverFest, YMCA, and Baxter Sports Complex marketing director Shawna Ross to bring an event to Lee County.
The event is scheduled for July 13th at the Baxter Sports Complex and will feature a 5K run that is open to the general public at 8 a.m. and then a kickball tournament with teams made up of employees and volunteers of emergency response units including police, sheriff departments, EMS services, dispatch officials, and Department of Corrections staffers.
Heitmeier said Ross and RiverFest Director Charles Craft have had conversations about the event after RiverFest became a sponsor of Boots vs. Badges’ annual slow-pitch softball event last year.
“Charles, Shawna, and myself met up at an event in the area and started talking about both of our events,” he said.
“We formed a partnership when they sponsored my event and then we got to talking more about co-sponsoring an event together to make more money for public safety, in a way that would be fun and entertaining for everyone who wanted to participate.”
The event on July 13th will kick off with an 8 a.m. 5K Hero Run/Walk managed by the Fort Madison YMCA. The public is encouraged to participate. Entry fee is $25. There is a May 31st registration deadline for the 5K and BIB package pickups will be on Friday at a time to be determined. Sponsorships are available and awards will be presented at around 9:20.
The kickball tournament will start with a 9:45 a.m. opening ceremony, which will include the national anthem and a celebrity throw of the first pitch.
Kickball will start at 10 a.m. The field is open to 10 to 12 team with a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 12 players per team. Entry fee is $250.
“Normally when you get 10 to 12 team members, everyone will chip in or their union would chip in to send them to play. It depends, sometimes it’s paid for by the players or a business. Money can come from anywhere in the community,” Heitmeier said.
First place will be awarded a cash donation to a charity of the team’s choosing, plus The County Cup Trophy. Second place will also get a charity donation plus a plaque. Third place will get a plaque and team certificates.
“This will be a fun event for everyone,” Ross said. “There will be more added on as we get closer. We’re very excited to bring this event to Fort Madison.”
Live music will also be part of the day after the 5K. Three different bands will play throughout the day at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 3 p.m.
Proceeds from the event will be split among the teams to help pay for equipment or items they need to purchase but do not have funding for. Teams need to provide a description of what they will be using the funds for.
Baxter Sports Complex concessions will be open as well and there will be raffles and a silent auction on site.
After the day’s events, an after-hours get-together is being planned at a different location to be announced at a later date.
The following weekend, Heitmeier will be holding his softball fundraiser in Burlington and this year he’s opened that event up to the tri-county area, as well. Last year the event raised money for Burlington Police Sergeant Bill Venvertloh who was battling cancer and has since died.
More information on that event can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/532981270237270/ .
For additional information on the Battle of the Badges event, contact Shawna Ross at 319-470-0622.