PIG BOWL 2019: Law enforcement tradition returns to support local charities

Photo courtesy of the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office/Cullman Police Department

CULLMAN, Ala. – A local law enforcement tradition returns after a decade hiatus, to bring together the officers of the Cullman Police Department (CPD) and Cullman County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) and raise money for charitable causes near to the officers’ hearts. The “Pig Bowl,” an interdepartmental flag football matchup, returns to the Oliver Woodard Stadium at Cullman High School Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019.

CPD Sgt. Joey Duncan told The Tribune, “We used to play annually and just kind of do it for charity, and give all the money to a local charity. We’ve kind of talked about it, and both agencies agreed it’s something we need to start back. It was a good thing and it helps out the community, and it gives money to charity, so we just kind of decided that we’re going to start it back.”

The two agencies also previously played an annual charity basketball game. According to Duncan, they may try to restart both traditions.

Said Duncan, “I’m not even sure why it ended, honestly. But I played every year, and it’s just a fun chance we get to play with our brothers at the sheriff’s office and raise money for charity.”

Sheriff Matt Gentry told The Tribune, “When the city came to us and asked us if we would play them as a fundraiser, you know, of course we agreed. It’s really good camaraderie for law enforcement. It takes a little of the stress off the plate of the day-to-day activities of law enforcement when you can pick a day to just go out and have fun and raise money for a good cause.

“And again, it builds some camaraderie among the deputies that are playing football, and then a little rivalry between the sheriff’s office and the police department. So, both of those are good, if done in the right way. I’m proud to see the guys are practicing, working hard. It’s all volunteer: they’re doing it on their own time and volunteering their time to do it, to make it a success.

“I just appreciate all the hard work of the guys and the girls that are playing, and look forward to seeing what they can accomplish on Nov. 23.”

Investigator Trevor Clemmons is coaching the CCSO deputies, while Sgt. Chris Nichols heads up the CPD team.

Proceeds support local charities

Proceeds from the event will be split evenly between the two agencies’ own charitable programs, meaning that all money raised will stay in the Cullman area.

Shop with a Cop

The CPD will put its proceeds into “Shop with a Cop,” an annual Christmas season program that allows police officers to take children from disadvantaged families shopping for Christmas gifts of clothing and toys. 

The event serves a dual purpose: to bring a little Christmas cheer to children and families in the community who might have trouble finding it on their own, and to give kids a chance to interact with law enforcement officers in a low-stress and high-fun environment.

Sgt. Adam Clark, who coordinates the shopping event, told The Tribune previously, “We really want this to be a one-on-one with the officer, as much as possible, so the kid has a good experience with the police officer.  Our goal is to make sure these kids have a positive outlook on the officers. We just want them to know us as regular human beings, not just police officers. We are here to help them; it’s what we’re here for.”

Officers also shop for special needs clients at the Margaret Jean Jones Center.

The amount spent by the CPD on each participant is based on the number who sign up and the amount of money raised before the event.

Special Needs Track and Field Day

The CCSO sponsors the annual Special Needs Track and Field Day at Cullman High School’s Oliver Woodard Stadium, hosting around 150 athletes for a series of fun events planned and overseen by the physical education staff of the Cullman County Child Development Center, and geared toward competitors with physical or developmental challenges. Participants, each of whom is assigned a buddy from a local high school Key Club to help with the day’s activities, get medals and ribbons, as well as a T-shirt and free lunch sponsored by local businesses and cooked by Gentry and his deputies.

CCSO Lt. Rex Sorrow told The Tribune, “The sheriff loves working with special needs students.  He loves our community first of all, and then he loves our special needs community just that much more.  He puts his heart and his soul, and his money, into trying to make this a good thing, just like our rodeo.”

Some sources have reported that the CCSO’s proceeds will be donated to Special Olympics, but Gentry confirmed that the funds will remain in Cullman County for his office’s local event.

Thanks to sponsors

The Pig Bowl is sponsored by Buffalo Wild Wings, which will hold a halftime competition for a year’s worth of wings, and Dick’s Sporting Goods, which will give away a Field and Stream Lookout Deluxe treestand.

At a glance

Pig Bowl 2019

Cullman Police Department v. Cullman County Sheriff’s Office charity flag football game

Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019 at 6:30 p.m.

Oliver Woodard Stadium at Cullman High School

Admission $5, proceeds going to CPD and CCSO charities

Halftime contests will give away free wings for a year from Buffalo Wild Wings and a Field and Stream deluxe treestand from Dick’s Sporting Goods. 

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Photo courtesy of the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office/Cullman Police Department

W.C. Mann