Softball game supports first responders

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The second Battle of the Badges softball game will be played Sept. 24 from noon-3 p.m. at Holland Park in Fishers, where the Fishers Police Dept. will play to defend its title against the Fishers Fire Dept.

The game is hosted by the Donaide Foundation and Behind Thin Lines nonprofit, which works to address mental health needs of first responders.

The event is free, but donations and sponsorships are welcome. About 10 sponsors are donating between $500 to $5,000 to the cause. Besides the softball game, there will also be a relay race, which FFD won last year, and face painting, a hair-braiding station hosted by Dragonfly Salon and an ice cream truck.

Karie Phelps, owner of Dragonfly Salon and co-founder of Behind Thin Lines, said the cause is special to her because her husband medically retired two years ago from the police department with post-traumatic stress disorder. Phelps said he was the first officer to retire from the force because of PTSD, so the process of finding him help proved to be costly, especially because there aren’t many crisis centers that specialize in mental health concerns for first responders and military personnel. Although some insurance plans cover some treatment, not all expenses are covered. That’s where Behind Thin Line steps in.

“I think that (mental health) is one of those things that doesn’t really cross many people’s minds when it comes to thinking of public safety,” FPD Lt. Will Ortiz said. “Even though we have specialized training to help us deal with our circumstances and certain situations, we have very limited resources to help people when they’re unable to cope or deal with some of the things that we see on the job.”

Besides fundraising, organizers say the softball game is a good way for the public to interact with first responders in a positive way.

“I think it’s great for the community to see the first responders out there having fun, not in any uniforms, not in a crisis situation, just having a good time and interacting with the community,” Phelps said.

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