Local youth football leagues honor first responders

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The first three games of the Trinity Youth Football League’s inaugural season followed the motto “Faith, Family, Football.”

The fourth flag football games for boys and girls in kindergarten through third grade on Saturday, however, had a different theme: “Faith, Family, First Responders.”

Since it was the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in America, the league’s board agreed it was important to get the kids involved with a tribute to local first responders and give them an opportunity to give back to the local heroes.

Personnel with the Seymour Police Department, Seymour Fire Department, Jackson County Emergency Medical Services, Redding Township Volunteer Fire Department, Brownstown Police Department, Indiana State Police and St. Vincent StatFlight were onsite for youth and their families to tour the various vehicles and talk to those who operate them. An FBI special agent and retired first responders were there, too.

After each game, players on the 10 teams presented a crate of donated items to the first responders, and in turn, the kids received rubber bracelets, fist bumps, handshakes and high fives.

Plus, Hercamp Crane had an 18-foot American flag flying high above the fields on the north side of Trinity Lutheran High School in Seymour.

“It was a pretty special tribute,” said Brad Boas, president of TYFL.

The Seymour Area Youth Football League also marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with Military and First Responder Appreciation Saturday. The honored guests were admitted free to Saturday’s games with a uniform or military or first responder identification.

Boas realizes the importance of first responders.

“Something dear to my heart is when my son was born three and a half years ago, he was flown to Indianapolis with this crew,” he said, referring to StatFlight. “It’s hard not to get emotional about it. These guys just mean so much. Knowing that they are here for us day in and day out, we may not see it. … What we don’t see is all of the grace and the blessings they are behind the scenes that we’re just very thankful for them.”

The crates were given to each first responder attending Saturday’s TYFL games as a token of appreciation and gratitude.

“Gifts from families, corporate sponsors, anything from a grill set to snacks to tumblers, coffee mugs, coffee, winter stocking hats. It’s pretty special,” Boas said.

From the start, the goal of the league organizers has been to show the kids how to give back and show some philanthropy.

“When we got to looking at the schedule and saw that Game 4 landed on 9/11, it was just a light bulb went off and we said, ‘This is the moment. This is our day to show our kids how to give back, maybe not in a philanthropical way but more honoring our fallen men and women and honor our first responders,’” Boas said.

Brownstown Officer Adam Behmlander said when TYFL Vice President Drew Storey called him Thursday about participating in Saturday’s event, he told him he would love to be there.

“It’s just giving back to the community,” he said. “It’s always good to get out and interact with adults and kids and show them the ins and outs of police cars and ambulances and firetrucks, just that public relations with the community. It’s good to know each one and everybody else a little bit better.”

He especially liked the interactions with the kids.

“Sometimes, with how the world and the media perceives police and sometimes fire and EMS, it’s not always the best picture, so it’s good to just talk with them and let them know that we’re here for them,” Behmlander said. “We want them to come to us when they are in trouble and just interact and know that we’re here for them.”