WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Dozens of police officers and sheriff’s deputies converged on downtown Wilmington this weekend. No, it wasn’t a drug bust or a stand-off, it was a shoot out… on the basketball court. This Saturday was the 19th annual Big Buddy Shoot Out.
It’s the battle of the badges. Law enforcement from both the Wilmington Police Department and New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office traded in one uniform for another.
“It’s a friendly competition, but we are a competitive group of guys,” WPD Sgt. Kelvin Hargrove said. “We are out here competing to win a game, which the Wilmington Police Department will win this year.”
Hargrove has played in the Big Buddy Shoot Out since it started 19 years ago.
“We get a little rough, but sheriff’s office, police department come together for a common cause for the community,” NHSO Lt. Sean Jones said. “That’s what it’s about. They are going to be the big winners, as well as the sheriff’s office.”
While both squads were playing to put points on the scoreboard, their main focus was to put funds in the pocket of the Cape Fear Volunteer Center’s Big Buddy program.
“It’s to know that there is someone there for you, someone that you can trust,” volunteer center director Annie Anthony said. “Someone that loves you, cares about you, that you can talk to. Because, you know, if we don’t pour into their lives, somebody on a corner, some gang member will pour into their lives. They will think that’s the only person that is there for them.”
Anthony believes that mentoring an at-risk child for just one hour a week for a whole year can have an incredible impact. She said the game is Big Buddy’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
Hargrove and Jones agreed that the game is also a great way to connect with the youth and the community.
“For them to see us, law enforcement officers, other than someone coming to arrest their mother or father or family member, they see us in a different light,” Jones said. “We are people just like they are. We just wear a uniform for a living.”
Another man in uniform, Dep. David Dombrowski, who was injured in a fatal crash on MLK Parkway back in January, is watching his new baby girl struggle to survive. He set up a booth for ‘Hannah’s Heart’ at the shoot out to raise money for the heart transplant his little girl needs after doctors found a tumor on hers.
The competition between county and city was able to benefit two great causes this year.
The sheriff’s office beat out the police department with a 40 to 23 win.