OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Sunday afternoon, Firefighters and Police officers from the metro geared up to face off at the Guns and Hoses hockey game.
The two teams have held a hockey game for years, usually for fun at smaller arenas. This year though, the game was sponsored by the First Responders Foundation, with money from the event benefiting the organization's mission of supporting first responders and their families, whether that's through equipment, training or emotional support.
Because the event was put on by the First Responders Foundation, it was held in a much bigger venue and attracted a much bigger crowd. This year's matchup was hosted at Baxter Arena and brought in around 2,000 spectators.
"It means a lot now. We’ve never had this sponsorship before so it helps out a lot. Now it’s this big venue we’re helping out a lot of people who need help we were just doing it locally for fun with some guys and now we wanted to go to a good cause," Patrick Sheifla, a hockey member on the blue team and a member of Douglas County Corrections, said.
The bigger arena brings more emotion and energy to the players.
"The day’s finally here. You see the excitement, you see the energy. you see the locker room. None of these guys have played in front of this many people probably ever so they’re coming out walking up to the glass and getting excited it’s a pretty good feeling," Derek Panneton, a hockey player on the red team and member of Omaha Fire Department said.
Not only are the players excited to take to the ice and battle it out, but they're grateful for the work the First Responders Foundation has done and the way the organization has supported them both through the game and through with careers.
"Just helping out with equipment, helping out with the newer technologies that not necessarily our department can get their hands on. There’s a lot of technology out there and having a corporation like this being able to raise money and get you the newer equipment so your guys are more safe you get more training there’s so many opportunities for it and we’re so grateful for it," Panneton said.
President of the First Responders Foundation, Todd Sears says it's a pleasure working with the heroes.
"It's amazing from the very beginning of talking to them and them designing their own new jerseys to designing the trophy we’ll present after the game it’s been an amazing process. They’re our heroes and they love playing they’ve been smack talking a bit back and forth too so that’s gun having a front row seat to see that as well," Sears said.
The organization hopes the event, and the foundation continue to grow.
"We hope to do this very single year. It’s obviously something that resonates with the community and the players so we want to be in a position where we can continue affecting positively as many first responders and their families as we possibly can, whether that's geographic or programmatic we want to make sure we’re In a position to do that for them," Sears said.
While the two teams were sure to smack talk each other a bit, they all said it was in good fun, although police officers did come out on top and take home the trophy.