After three long years, Delta Fire and Delta Police returned to Sungod Arena for a second Battle of the Badges.
The charity hockey game pitted firefighters against police officers in a friendly competition on Feb. 22 in support of anti-bullying campaigns on Pink Shirt Day.
Members of the two departments usually play together on the Delta Bulls, but firefighter Joel Woznikoski and police sergeant Darren Dunn thought they should bring back the Battle of the Badges from 2014 with a small twist: Unlike the previous event, which raised money for the Delta Firefighters’ Charitable Society, Cops for Cancer and the Law Enforcement Torch Run, this year’s event would raise awareness for anti-bullying.
“We are looked up to, if we like it or not – it’s the way our positions are,” Woznikoski said. And the best way to be “good role models is to embrace the anti-bullying message.
“If we could help out a couple of kids, or hundreds of kids, it would go a long way in making sure bullying comes to an end.”
Delta Police (in green) face off against Delta Fire during the Battle of the Badges at Sungod Arena on Feb. 22. Photo credit: Grace Kennedy
Nearly 1,600 Delta students in grades five to seven came to the game. Delta Fire Chief Dan Copeland said this game was a “neat opportunity” to show off examples of sportsmanship, fair play, and kindness – through the hockey as well as the messaging.
The kids in attendance seemed to agree. There was energy throughout the arena, breaking out in wild bouts of pink towel waving and cheering for both teams. Some students even shouted “choose kindness” – the hashtag for the event.
As coaches for the two teams, Copeland and Delta Police Chief Constable Neil Dubord also got in on the fun by engaging in shootouts between periods.
Although the event was primarily to raise awareness – speeches were held during the game and Delta police liaisons visited classes afterwards – there was some monetary involvement.
The Delta Firefighters Charitable Society and the Delta Police Association both presented $500 cheques to the Boys and Girls Club, donations that will stay in Delta.
After all, for Woznikoski, it’s all about the kids.
“To us it just seemed like a no-brainer to include them and have them have a great experience with us,” he said. “To be in a positive atmosphere, and for them to see us in a positive light, is a great opportunity. And to help educate them on the anti-bullying message is just an invaluable experience for everyone involved.”