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Battle of badges to benefit hospital

DULUTH - Despite his Michigan pedigree, Cody Otts never got the chance to play hockey in Georgia.

The infant died of multiple heart defects on May 5, 2005 - about six months before his second birthday. But Cody's short life continues to inspire a uniquely sporty philanthropy that aides other sick kids.

Come Sunday, a mishmash of police and firefighters from around metro Atlanta will take the Gwinnett Arena ice as part of the so-called "Battle of the Badges" benefit, now in its fourth year. They'll face off against the Southwest Florida Firefighters.

A big chunk of proceeds will go to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, where Cody was a patient.

The event has pulled together about $5,000 each year in charity funds. Organizers are hoping for twice that amount Sunday.

"The event is in memory of Cody," said Meagan Potts, a hospital spokeswoman.

The face-off immediately follows the Gwinnett Gladiators vs. Augusta Lynx game at 4 p.m. Tickets are $16.

Cody's father, Kevin Otts, a Special Deputy U.S. Marshal, is a veteran of Atlanta police. The Michigan native was also among the first players on the Metro Atlanta Police and Fire Hockey Team's roster.

"His hockey team continues to be a big part of his life," said Potts. "Every year, they raise funds for (the hospital) in Cody's memory.

"Cody had a special place in his father's heart."

But funds will go further than simply the hospital. Potts said about $6 of every ticket will benefit Camp Braveheart - a special camp for heart-transplant recipients and youngsters stricken with heart disease

"At Camp Braveheart, they have a chance to do the things that other kids do, with no worries of medical procedures, and no fear of being different from their peers," Potts said.

Kid-friendly activities kick off a couple hours before the game.

More than 30 police, fire and public safety units have planned demonstrations. Expect a fire safety house, a K-9 unit, as well as fire, SWAT and police vehicles galore.

SideBar: If you go

· What: Fourth annual "Battle of the Badges" benefit hockey game

· When: Festivities start at 2 p.m. Sunday

· Where: Gwinnett Arena

· Cost: $16

· For more information/tickets: Visit www.choa.org/hockey or call Paul Davis, Children's Sports Network, at 404-785-7329.