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Police, firemen to raise money for camp for heart patients

DULUTH - There are more than 100 young heart patients that want to go to Camp Braveheart in Rutledge this year. It costs $500 per child to attend the camp for a week, but proceeds from a Sunday hockey game in Gwinnett will help the children attend the camp for free.

This weekend's "Battle of the Badges" marks the third year the Metro Atlanta Police/Fire hockey team will team up with the Gwinnett Gladiators to raise money for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's Camp Braveheart.

Camp Director Cheryl Belair said $8 from each $16 ticket sold will go to help children attend Camp Braveheart, a partner of Camp Twin Lakes, which offers a special weeklong session for children and teens affected by heart disease.

Belair said the game is also in memory of Cody Otts, whose father, Special Deputy U.S. Marshal Kevin Otts, is a former player on the Atlanta team.

Cody died in May 2005 at age 2 from multiple heart defects. Since then, Belair said, the game has been in memory pf Cody and dedicated to raising money to help other children who may have heart problems.

Belair said members of the Metro Atlanta Police/Fire hockey team contacted Children's Healthcare of Atlanta about three years ago asking if they could help raise money to support the camp.

"The team picked us," Belair said. "And we're never going to say no to a fundraiser."

Playing as a nonprofit team, the police and fire group comprises 30 players from metro Atlanta who have a love for the game and are dedicated to raise money for a good cause.

Gwinnett County firefighter and player No. 43 Philip Wood said all the team's games are played to raise money for local charities.

"I really like this event. It's one of our biggest events of the season," Wood said. "We've got a bunch of good guys on the team and it's all about giving back the best way we can."

Kennesaw police Detective Chris Burr said although this is his first year on the team and playing in the charity game, he is honored to get the chance to play for such a good cause.

"We're not in it for any type of glory," Burr said. "It's about raising the money."

A safety demonstration from Atlanta area firefighters and police officers, including Gwinnett fire and police, will start at 2 p.m. and a silent auction with sports memorabilia will take place before and during the game.

Belair said children will be able to climb through and explore fire trucks, police cars, SWAT trucks, helicopters and other safety vehicles.

"It's a family-friendly, kid-friendly event," Belair said. "It's going to be a lot of fun."

The police and fire team will play the Southwest Florida Firefighters after the Gwinnett Gladiators take on the Florida Everglades at 4 p.m. at the Arena at Gwinnett Center at 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway.

For tickets, visit www.choa.org/events and click on the calendar listing for Sunday or call Renee Fraley at 404-785-7313.

IF YOU GO

• What: Battle of the Badges

•When: Sunday, public safety event starts at 2 p.m.;

Gladiators game starts at 4:05 p.m. and Atlanta Police/Fire Hockey to follow

•Where: Arena at Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth