October 31, 2014
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Police vs. Fire rivalry taking to the court

The friendly rivalry between the Warwick Police and Fire Departments found a home on the ice at Thayer Arena in March for the Mayor’s Cup Hockey Game. It was a tremendous success, with nearly 1,000 people in the stands and more than $7,000 raised for charity.

And it sparked another game for the rivalry – with another good cause in mind. Teams from the Warwick Police and Fire Departments will get together Sept. 7 for a charity basketball game at 7 p.m. at Warwick Vets High School.

“It all stemmed from the hockey game,” said WPD officer Gilda Fortier, one of the organizers. “There was a basketball game two years ago and we didn’t have such a good turn-out. Seeing what they were able to do with the hockey game just made everybody want to get on board again.”

The fire department picked a charity for the game two years ago, and the police department has chosen a cause this year that’s close to the heart of many officers. One hundred percent of the proceeds will benefit Surfers Healing, a national program that gives children on the autism spectrum the opportunity to attend a surf camp. The program annually has a stop in Narragansett. This year’s event is scheduled for Sept. 14.

“One member of our department has a child who always goes to the camp,” Fortier said. “We felt this would be a good way to help him and to help the whole program as much as we could.”

Surfers Healing was founded in Southern California by Israel and Danielle Paskowitz. Their son, Isaiah, was diagnosed with autism at age three. Israel, a former competitive surfer, found that Isaiah was at home in the waves. Surfers Healing was born and has since expanded to both coasts.

“It’s a great program, and this is our way of helping out,” Fortier said.

The basketball game two years ago was an enjoyable experience for the participants, but the event wasn’t as big as both departments envisioned. They’re hoping the momentum of the charity hockey game carries over.

“It was exciting last time, but I don’t think word got out as much,” Fortier said. “We’re striving to make it like the hockey game.”

If the early interest is any indication, they’re on the right track. There was no shortage of players willing to sign up.

“It just spread like wildfire,” Fortier said.

All players are from the Warwick departments, and there should be some solid basketball talent on display. As always, it’ll be intense, too.

“It’s going to be like Boston vs. New York,” Fortier said. “We’ve been practicing and I’m sure they have too. Everyone is taking it seriously.”

The departments are asking for a $5 donation for tickets, though it’s not mandatory. Tickets are available at the Warwick Police Department, 99 Veterans Memorial Drive.

Donations are accepted, as well, and the police department is also seeking donations for raffle items.


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