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MARCH MADNESS

Charity event raises money for the Arlington Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Defending champions Arlington County Police soundly beat the Arlington County Firefighters at this year’s Community March Madness basketball game on Saturday, March 18 at Marymount University's Verizon Sports Arena.

MEMBERS OF the Arlington County police force and firefighters battled it out in the name of charity, collecting donations for the Arlington County chapter of the American Red Cross.

Police head coach Ron Files led his team to a 68-33 win over the firefighters. Clayton Deskins was the head coach of the firefighters. At one point during the fourth period, the police led by 37 points.

Donations were accepted from spectators in traditional hats and boots displayed near the door. While the police and firefighters have played this annual basketball game for years, this one is just the second in which money has been raised for charity. Prizes were raffled off during the game as well.

This year’s event was sponsored in part by the Hyatt Hotels. John Ford of the Hyatt Regency Crystal City proclaimed it a “damn good event.” More than just raising money for charity, he says this event allows the Hyatt to “form partnerships with local emergency responders.” He was taught CPR by the local Red Cross, and now teaches it to his staff. “We need the community to be together when that unforeseen event happens,” he says, such as a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

Comcast also sponsored the event because, according to Veronica Santos, community relations manager for Comcast, “we are always looking for ways to reach out to the community and give back.”

Sgt. Susan Noack of the Arlington County Police was there to watch the game and cheer on her team. “People in the community need to see people in these jobs doing different things,” she says, explaining how such events benefit emergency responders. She says that it “helps build a bond between the community and service groups.”

Before the game, Frank Rachal, a firefighter and EMT, sang the Star-Spangled Banner. At half-time, the Marymount University Dance Team performed. Another highlight of half-time was the Police Chief vs. Fire Chief shoot-out, in which Police Chief M. Douglass Scott made six shots from the free-throw line, while Fire Chief Jim Schwartz did not make any. The police, sheriff’s office and firefighters all had displays in the lobby for citizens to learn more about joining their departments.

County Board member Barbara Favola was in attendance, and she says she enjoyed the display of “healthy competition.” While both teams were definitely playing to win, all players were sportsmanlike and put the same effort into the game as they do during their day jobs.