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Fire Bowl Brings First Responders, Medical Staff Together

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - It's the rare game in which everyone's a winner.

Local emergency responders and hospital staff gathered at Coe College's Clark Field for the 4th Annual Fire Bowl on Sunday. It's an all-day flag football tournament for charity.

Sean Beard, a member of the 17-man team from the Cedar Rapids Fire Department, says last year's Fire Bowl raised $33,000, and they've already surpassed that mark with this year's tournament.

"The goal this year is to raise $55,000 for the program our foundation created called Sparky's Truck, that benefits pediatric patients who are hospitalized at St. Luke's hospital," Beard said.

Sparky's Truck is a charity that brings entertainment and comfort to pediatric patients and their families, with items that help them feel at home.

"We've purchased iPads, laptops, books, games, anything to kind of distract them from being the hospital," Beard explained.

Everyone's here for a mutual cause, but there's also a title to defend.

"We brought the trophy up this morning, and we were hoping to put it in the car and bring it back," said Clint McFarland, a member of the Iowa City Fire Department team. "We could still do it, but it's going to be a hard rest of the day."

We caught up McFarland shortly after a tough 12-6 loss.

"Our first game didn't go so well," McFarland told us. "We went out and played the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and I guess they proved they're the best team in Iowa City."

But no hard feelings.

"It really feels good to know you're benefiting children and families in need," McFarland said.

St. Luke's president and CEO Ted Townsend said it's a good feeling to watch from the sidelines and see first responders coming together on the field.

"These are the people that often see these children for the first time coming into St. Luke's," Townsend said. "Maybe they're in an accident; it's the fire, it's the police, it's all the same folks who are actually starting the care."

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