Saturday, May 7, marked the culmination of an idea. For those of you who are not aware, the LVPPA has its own charity that supports the children of fallen officers assigned to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. LEAF is funded by donations, and the funds are used for gifts at Christmas and to celebrate the birthdays of fallen members’ children.
We now have decided to give out LEAF scholarships every year. This past year, we awarded six $5,000 scholarships to very deserving high school graduates who have a parent who is a member of the LVPPA. Over the past few years, LEAF has proudly paid for the college tuition, meal plan, books and housing for a fallen officer’s child. LEAF will pay the in-state rate in Nevada, which comes to $21,854 a year.
On May 7, first responders from the fire department and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department participated in a charity football game to support their respective charities. We selected Bonanza High School because we wanted to also support a local high school that could use our support, and Bonanza did not let us down. The coaching staff at Bonanza was extremely supportive, and the high school football players were very helpful and supportive in this massive endeavor.
The support from the Las Vegas Valley was unbelievable. If I had to make a rough estimation about the attendance, I would guess well over 3,000 people were there. From our volunteers and the Board of Directors to their families, this was a complete team effort. Fire engines and police vehicles lined the field, and I realized how inspiring it was that even though both sides wanted to win the game, there was mutual respect between both sides as we both worked toward a common goal.
We quickly realized that the cause was bigger than a football game. I spoke with several players, and I was told that LEAF means a lot to them because one of the fallen officers was represented by his academy class. So to think that we are still able to support his family by playing in a football game made each one of those players proud. Having a close relationship with a current LEAF recipient right now, I can see firsthand how this is a unique and special way for us to remain in the lives of these kids and to honor the memories of their fallen parents. Next year, I expect to see twice as many people in attendance, and I only hope it continues to grow and expand.