By ASHLEY HELMS
Last year, village police snagged the coveted Turkey Bowl trophy by just one point and it remained in the police department headquarters ever since. This year, the firefighters exacted revenge, upending the cops in the annual flag football game by a 34-14 margin.
National Survivors of Suicide day is also Nov. 23. This year, the day will not go unnoticed by members of the police and fire departments in the Village of Mamaroneck, who played in the second-annual Turkey Bowl flag football game to raise money for the cause.
The game was played on the Mamaroneck High School football field on Nov. 15. Members of the village police and fire departments went head-to-head in order to win the Turkey Bowl trophy while raising money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
As onlookers clenched their hands inside jacket pockets to keep warm and cheered for their family members from the bleachers, donations could be dropped into a fireman’s boot or made through the purchase of a raffle ticket for an Xbox 360 at the AFSP booth.
The AFSP is a national non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy. The Westchester chapter of the organization was on-hand during the football game.
Maria Idoni, director of the Westchester AFSP chapter, said she was contacted and interviewed by the fire department before they made an agreement to donate. She said the organization estimates about $5,000 in donations will be made thanks to the game.
Most of the organization’s staff members have lost a loved one to suicide, Idoni said, and she herself lost siblings to preventable deaths.
“I lost my two brothers to drug overdoses. When you lose someone suddenly, it hurts,” Idoni said. “So if I can help anyone, it’s meaningful.”
Police Det. Bernard McNally, who was taking donations from attendees when they first arrived at the field, said proceeds from last year’s game were donated to a pediatric cancer foundation. But this year, following a few suicides in the community, the police and fire departments felt compelled to collaborate with a suicide prevention organization.
About $4,500 was raised last year, McNally said, and the police department won the game by just one point.
In the Turkey Bowl, team members wear Velcro flags on their waists that the opposing team tries to rip off instead of tackling each other as in full-contact football games.
The winning team gets to hold onto the trophy for the rest of the year but the game also goes a long way toward building bonds.
“There’s a strong camaraderie in the Village of Mamaroneck; you may be worst enemies on the field, but off the field everyone is still friendly with each other,” McNally said.