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The excitement is building for the 2016 Battle of the Badges, the now annual boxing event that pits law enforcement and firefighters against each other to raise money for Easter Seals so they can continue helping families affected by autism.

Meet & Greet the Fighters Beer Bash starts at 2 p.m. June 11 at Dickie’s Bar, 1537 Durand Avenue. Admission is $10 at the door or $8 with two books to donate to Cops ‘n Kids Reading program.

In addition to the opportunity to meet most of the 24 fighters who will duke it out in 12 matches in a regulation ring in the gym at J.I. Case High School, folks will enjoy live entertainment, games and raffles, and plenty of food. The 2016 Battle features 14 departments; seven each from law enforcement and fire:

  • Racine County Sheriff’s Office
  • Racine Police Department
  • Sturtevant Police Department
  • Racine Fire Department
  • South Shore Fire Department
  • Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office
  • Kenosha Fire Department
  • Madison Police Department
  • Waukesha Sheriff’s Office
  • Waukesha Fire Department
  • Park City, IL, Police Department
  • Cudahy Fire Department
  • Milwaukee Fire Department
  • Knoxville, IL, Fire Department

This is the third year Mount Pleasant police Officer James Kelley and his wife, Lisa – plus a veritable army of volunteers – have put on the Battle of the Badges. Kelley’s friendship and trash-talking with MPPD Sgt. Jason Vaccaro led to the first event when a fellow officer said he’d put his money where Kelley’s and Vaccaro’s mouths were. Ten officers and firefighters from Racine County agencies participated in 2014, but that number swelled in 2015 to 24 fighters in 12 bouts; two of which featured women.

The fights are the primary draw, of course, but the night also includes a bucket raffle and silent auction featuring hundreds of donations. The Kelley’s presented a check for $28,000 to Easter Seals in 2014; in 2015 that amount went up by 42 percent to nearly $67,000, far surpassing the $50,000 they’d hoped to raise.