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Several officers and fire fighters are ready to hit the ring Oct. 11 for a Battle of the Badges fundraiser for autism services through Easter Seals Disability Services. Organized by Mount Pleasant police Officer James Kelley, Jr., who’s youngest son has autism, the five-round boxing event came together because of friendly trash talk between Kelley and his good friend, MPPD Sgt. Jason Vaccaro. “We always joked about boxing each other,” Kelley explained. “When another officer said he’d give $250 if we actually boxed each other, I thought we should just do a fundraiser instead.” Representatives from the Mount Pleasant, Sturtevant, Racine, and Caledonia police departments along with firefighters from South Shore have been matched up in bouts leading up the main event featuring Kelley and Vaccaro. Boxers will face off in a regulation ring from Straight Up Boxing in Kenosha paid for by the Mount Pleasant Police Association and the South Shore Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 2939. Local celebrities like Pittsburgh Pirate Jason Jaramillo, and MMA fighters Frank Aguilar and Solomon Hutchinson will serve as judges, and MMA veteran and fellow Racine native Nick Aguilar will suit up as the referee. Getting volunteers to participate really wasn’t that hard, Kelley said, starting first with area police chiefs for the green light and appreciating those who raised their hands. South Shore firefighter Jason Caira will face off against Caledonia police Officer Cory Radke in the third bout. He said he said, “yes” as soon as he was asked and has been training and taking lessons at Straight Up Boxing to get ready. “I don’t have anyone in my family with autism, but I want to do whatever we can to help Kelley’s family and others like his,” Caira said. “It’s great to raise money for Easter Seals.” Everyone will also be fully outfitted for safety; head gear, mouth guards, and wearing only 16-ounce gloves. “We’re taking all the necessary precautions because no one really wants to get hit in the face,” Kelley said, with a laugh. In addition to the boxing matches, Battle of the Badges will also feature a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle. There will also be food for purchase donated by local eateries. Doors open for the event at 5 p.m. at the gym at Case High School, 7345 Washington Avenue. The bell rings for the first bout at 6 p.m. Admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Admission is free for kids age 14 and younger. To order tickets or contribute items for the silent auction, call Officer James Kelley at (262) 945-7001.

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