Mt. Juliet's first responders hit the court Saturday in a basketball face-off with each basket signaling more money for the local help center.
The friendly rivalry held at Mt. Juliet Middle School pitted Fire Department of Mt. Juliet against the Mt. Juliet Police Department in what was dubbed "Safety Slam Jam," where at one point FDMJ Interim Fire Chief Jamie Luffman was mock "arrested" by police officers as a way to round up even more donations for his quick "release."
"I was arrested during the game and after a very short foot chase was apprehended on warrants," said Luffman. "My firefighters passed the boot around the crowd and gained an additional $300-$400 dollars for my bail."
Even Luffman's wife contributed. "She loves me!" Luffman said.
And, it's obvious the community and the participants' teams "love" the Mt. Juliet Help Center as well.
Charlene Foutch, with the Mt. Juliet Help Center, organized the event and all proceeds raised from the game went into the Help Center's building fund. They are constructing a new building in their former location in back of Celebration Lutheran Church on North Mt. Juliet Road. MJHC Director Carolyn Smith said Foutch "worked so hard and so long to organize everything."
Luffman said donations from the game and the sponsors at last count were more than $12,000.
"It was such a great event," said Smith. "I was touched by the way everyone kept giving, in the auction and even when the 'fire boot' was passed around for even more donations."
Environmental Science Corporation Lab Sciences CEO Peter Schulert said their company was happy to invite MJHC to reside in one of their campus buildings on Lebanon Road during their construction process. The center is temporarily housed in the former Chief Rental building ESC bought four years ago. They've been able to continue services there free of charge until their building is ready to occupy, most likely in June.
Smith said the money raised Saturday will go directly into the building fund and will make a great difference.
MJPD Lt. Tyler Chandler said the game was fun and he was a good sport when he revealed FDMJ technically won the game, though it wasn't about points as much as it was about serving the community and its Help Center.
"It was an exciting game, and everyone was glad to see the large turn-out," said Chandler. "All of our players had a great time, and we appreciate Tennessee Titans Brett Kern in keeping our score up. This is the second time that we have played a basketball game against Mt. Juliet Fire, and it is always fun."
There was also an auction that included a signed fiddle by Charlie Daniels, plus t-shirts for sale and signed basketballs.
Writer Laurie Everett may be contacted at email@example.com.