Battle of The Badges: An Inspiring Start
By Roy Spielmann
North Shore Fire Department
In December of 2003, a little girl who was very special to me, passed away. This little girl had just returned from a vacation on a Disney Cruise, a cruise that was provided to her and her family by the Make A Wish Foundation. I asked myself, how can I help these people who had helped this family enjoy their last few days together.
I was working on an ambulance in Milwaukee at the time, and had been involved in Hockey all of my life. So, with the help of a few friends who shared similar interests in children and hockey, we began organizing the First Annual Battle of the Badges. The game put firefighters and law enforcement officers on the ice in a Hockey game to raise money for charity.
That first year we worked from our own pockets, having little time to put the game together. But, after about two months of organizing and recruiting teams (Christian Osell a Milwaukee Police Officer at the time was the first player ever registered), we put two very good teams with about 500 people in the stands at Kenosha Ice Rink, raising $4,000 dollars.
The police team won that first contest, although the firefighters made an impressive comeback at the end of the game.
All of us realized that our success could make the contest an annual event.
New Ice and Increased Donations
The next year the game was put together with a lot more time and organization, which brought in more fans and a spike in donations. The end result was the same on the scoreboard with the cops defeating the firefighters, but the real winners were children with cancer.
The game ultimately Milwaukee’s Wilson Park, a larger venue and a stronger market for hockey fans. Two years at Wilson saw attendance and donations grow. Plus, we moved to current rules of twenty minute periods. The talent on the ice was considerably better, and both teams tasted victory in those two seasons.
A Commitment to Hope
As jobs and lives change, my fellow organizers and I were becoming unable to continue doing as much for the event. So in 2007 Roy Spielman stepped up and presented our game to the Milwaukee Admirals. The Admirals liked what they saw and on April 5th 2008 the Battle of the Badges came to Milwaukee's Bradley Center before a large and very enthusiastic crowd.
The Police team once again won, but in the end the winners were the people involved and the people helped by our event.