Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Annual Tampa Badge Bowl Game Continues to Be Successful

Members of the City of Tampa’s local law enforcement agencies brought a whole new meaning to the mantra “serve and protect” on Saturday afternoon.
Rather than carrying out those responsibilities for the Bay Area’s local citizens, individuals from the Tampa Police Department and Tampa Fire Rescue instead did just that, but for their quarterback that is.
It was all part of Badge Bowl IX, an annual charity flag football game hosted for the first time by the Tampa Bay Storm and Tampa Bay Times Forum to benefit the 1Voice Foundation and the Foundation of Courage.
“We’re grateful to our valiant partners at both the Tampa Police Department and Tampa Fire and Rescue for once again making this year’s Badge Bowl such a tremendous event,” said Kasey Smith, senior director of the community relations. “They, along with all the sponsors and supporters, make Badge Bowl such an awesome day for the heroic children and families battling childhood cancer.”
Among the special guests in attendance to witness the Tampa Fire and Rescue Firestorm defeat the Tampa Police Department Gladiators, 12-7, were City of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Lightning Community Hero Sister Anne Dougherty. Storm football operations executive Dave Wilson and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Earnest Graham also both served as honorary head coaches in the game.
As for the action on the field, Tampa Fire Rescue’s Erik Joyce looked more like one of Graham’s Buccanneers teammates out there in the secondary, as he came up with two interceptions on the day. But with the Firestorm behind 7-6 in the final quarter, it was the game’s MVP Brian Barsoumian who stole the show, as he returned an interception back to the house for six with 3:30 left that held up as the winning score.
“It was pretty huge,” Barsoumian said. “It was a great team effort and a great victory.”
But the victory, however, was by far more reserved for the children it benefited than the players themselves.
Anthony Alvarez, a 15-year-old Bloomingdale High School student beating non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was one such individual named as an honoree of Saturday’s game, while Aaron Klingebiel, a 12-year-old Pasco County middle school student battling a malignant brain tumor was another. In all, the event raised thousands of dollars, all for a worthy cause.
“It doesn’t matter what side you’re on or what the result is, the real winners are the kids,” Tampa Fire and Rescue’s Tim Hayes said. “It’s great to see all the contributions of both the police and the fire departments who work hard behind the scenes to make it all possible.”
The Badge Bowl began in 2002 and was dedicated to Taylor Dumke, a young girl who was suffering from a brain tumor. A portion of the money collected from the event is directed to generating funds for both Alvarez and Klingebiel, while the remainder of the proceeds is divided up between the 1Voice Foundation, which provides families with children battling serious illness with emotional and financial support, and the Foundation of Courage. In the last decade, approximately $200,000 has been raised through this outstanding community event.

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