The Edmond Sun

May 13, 2013

Edmond cops-firefighters game to benefit family

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — The name of the event — Battle of the Brave — says it all.

Edmond firefighters and police officers will be facing each other for a free inter-department baseball game, what is believed to be a first for the city, at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Memorial High School’s baseball field north of the YMCA at 1220 S. Rankin St.

However, the event has turned into something much more than a game. It has turned into a charity event. Once Bulldog booster club costs are covered, silent auction, T-shirt sales and concession stands will benefit the family of Fire Capt. John Werhun. The booster club wants to pay for a new tarp for the field.

On April 27, Werhun died after a five-year battle with cancer. In July 2008, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Werhun left behind a wife and two daughters. His oldest daughter will be throwing out the first pitch.

Community support for the family has been broad. One of John’s dying wishes was for members of the community to help his family with various chores like doing taxes or mowing the lawn. Before he died, that effort was under way.

Then word spread that the cops-firefighters game would also benefit Werhun’s family, which has medical bills to pay.

Organizers for the event include Todd Simpson, president of Memorial High School’s baseball booster club, Lindall Wood, a firefighter-paramedic and Police Detective Tony Newsom.

Wood said more than 20 members of the Fire Department have signed up to play for their team. Many of them have ordered game T-shirts for their families, meaning many area residents likely will be attending the game, Wood said.

“I thought it was important to honor a department man who was also a family man,” he said.

Edmond Police Officer Jimmy Gwartney, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police chapter, said the FOP bought T-shirts and helmets for members of the Police Department’s team.

“It’s the ultimate feeling of us coming together , regardless of whether we were blue or red, as a family to support each other,” Gwartney said.

Simpson said the booster club wanted to get involved partly to use the event as a way to show Bulldog players the importance of giving back to the community. The club and players also help the community via the HOPE Center and The Miracle League of Edmond, Simpson said.

“It think it’s going to be a really good event,” he said.

It’s also personal for Simpson, who lost a cousin to leukemia and has many firefighter friends.

Organizers said the cops-firefighters game will be an annual event. Plans call for Werhun’s family to be involved in identifying future beneficiaries, Wood said.

Items for the silent auction during the game are still needed. Organizers said they don’t have to be high-priced. Suggested items include gift cards for a variety of businesses or services. A limited number of T-shirts, which cost $20 each, remain available for purchase.

In 2012, Werhun was named Firefighter of the Year by the Kiwanis Club of Edmond. At the time, he was a fire captain at Station 1, one of the busiest of the city’s five stations. He worked until health issues prevented him from doing so.

A fund has been established for the Werhun family. Financial donations also can be made to the “John Werhun Family Support Fund” at any Citizens Bank of Edmond branch.

For more information about donating an item for the  silent auction, call Todd Simpson at 826-0647 or send him email at | 341-2121, ext. 108