Guns-N-Hoses fundraiser reaches 10 years

-A A +A
By Sam Draut

A grass roots fundraising effort is celebrating its 10th year.


The annual Guns-N-Hoses charity flag football game that pits police officers and firefighters against each other resumes the first-responders rivalry Saturday, Aug. 10 at 1 p.m. hosted at Oldham County Youth Football League (OCYFL) in Buckner.

Robert Lane, a local police officer and founder of the game, didn’t think the fundraiser would still be going a decade later after it first started.

“There were times when I wondered if we were going to make much of it, finally it blew up. It’s very rewarding, for me personally, and it’s people who believe in the law enforcement and first responders,” Lane said. “It’s a good event for the community. It’s good memories for the community.”

In what first started as a charity softball event to help a young girl diagnosed with leukemia, transformed into a flag football game when Lane was asked for a change of sports.

The event needed a field, and OCYFL obliged. La Grange Sergeant Ray Whitehill and Lane worked on a partnership with the youth league, which now plays its jamboree on the same day as the Guns-N-Hoses game.

The charity event truly began from the simplest form. Lane would walk the streets asking for donations.

“We didn’t make much money those first few years, we didn’t get any recognition,” Lane said. “I got down sometimes about if I was going to make the money to make this go. There have been a lot of ups and downs.”

The fundraiser sends its proceeds to the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), which allows the donations to be divided amongst several charities. The event raises funds for OCYFL, two scholarships for the Oldham County Community Scholarships and memorials for firefighters and law enforcements, along with helping first-responder families in difficult situations.

Lane estimated that donations to OCYFL helped over 150 families cover the cost of participation for football players and cheerleaders last year.

Tim Kollenberg, OCYFL President, said the youth league is appreciative to be a part of the event as it has grown.

“We thought what a great thing to do for the community to be a part of,” Kollenberg said. “We mixed it in with our jamboree day so all the people would be here. We hoped that our kids would get to see the first-responders in a different light than in a police car, on a fire truck or in an ambulance.”

While Lane has built the fundraiser in the past 10 years, he hasn’t done it alone. He credited Bill Howard, owner of Fastline Publications, with giving instrumental initial support.

“Bill supported us and he didn’t get anything out of it, it was before we did sponsorships,” Lane said. “He suggested doing a package for people, and that’s how banners and sponsorships came out.”

The event now has 22 shirt sponsors and nearly 20 banner sponsors.

Along with support around the business community, first-responders from around the state travel to Buckner and pay to play in the annual game. The referees are volunteers who officiating high school football on Friday nights.

Frank Conway, the former La Grange Chief of Police, encourage for the event to continue in its early days.

“He said ‘It doesn’t matter how much you raise, that is more than they have ever had,’” Lane said. “That opened up my eyes. Frank has been my right hand man on it.”

All About that Bounce, a bounce house rental company in La Grange, is donating inflatables for children including a fire truck inflatable and obstacle course during the day of the game. Lane plans to have halftime performances by local cheerleading teams and James Cahen of American Wooden Flag Company is donating American flags that represent police officers and fire fighters for an online auction as well.

“This is a great opportunity for the younger ones to see that first-responders are normal people,” Lane said. “We live in the community with you and we love the community just like you do. We want to give back to the community.”