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Firefighters Raise Funds on the Field at Softball Classic

The annual "Lane Kemper Softball Classic," held Wednesday at Hjelte Sports Center in Encino, benefits the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen's Fund.

Los Angeles city firefighters from Echo Park, Westwood, Pacific Palisades and more gathered on the field at Hjelte Sports Center in Encino Wednesday for the "Lane Kemper Softball Classic," a fundraiser that benefits the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen's Fund.

Firefighter Bill Bringas of Pacific Palisades coordinated the charity tournament, named after Bringas' friend and colleague Captain Lane Kemper. Kemper was an advocate for the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen's Fund before he lost his battle with cancer in September 2006.

According to Bringas, 32 teams particpated in Wednesday's event. Which means about 500 firefighters and about 100 spectators took to the field for a day in the sun!

Firefighters from Pacific Palisades Fire Station 23, and Westwood's Fire Station 37 were on the same team ... proudly wearing University of California Los Angeles jerseys, since Station 37 is located right near the campus. Of course, rivals weren't too far away. LAFD Fire Station 15, which serves the University of Southern California area, were sporting USC jerseys as well!

Echo Park's Fire Station 20 also came in uniform. They wore matching T-shirts with Echo Park written in bold letters.

Patch grabbed some photos from the tournament when elimination rounds had just begun. And at that point, the Palisades-Westwood team was still in the running! But Bringas said after three games, Sylmar's Station 24 knocked them out of the tournament.

USC-area Fire Station 15 was crowned the winner after beating South L.A.'s Fire Station 33. In fact, Bringas told Patch that Station 15 is the only three-peat champion team in the 27-year history of the tournament!

Bringas said about 30 volunteers helped make the event possible, cooking lunch, organizing the raffle and more. Raffle prizes were donated by local residents and the public also had the opportunity to sponsor the teams.

Although the tournament is over, there are ways you can help the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen’s Fund. So, for more information, visit the organization's website.

To see highlights from the Lane Kemper Softball Classic, be sure to scroll through the photo gallery!

  • For more information about the Lane Kemper Softball Classic, click here.
  • For more information about the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen’s Fund, click here.
  • For the story about the American Legion Awards, which Bringas received, .

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