Omaha P.A.C.E. baseball event aims to honor first responders

A youth baseball game is held for a good cause
Published: Jul. 23, 2022 at 6:32 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - On Saturday young athletes grabbed a bat to honor fallen heroes.

The Police Athletics for Community Engagement, or P.A.C.E., teamed up with Concerns of Police Survivors, or C.O.P.S., to put together a day all about baseball. C.O.P.S. is national organization with chapters here in Omaha. They specialize in helping the family members of those who have fallen in the line of duty.

The young athletes played a series of games with the goal of reaching 563 minutes of activity. Those minutes represent the 563 law enforcement and first responders nationally who have died in the line of duty within the last year.

“We’ve got about 20 to 40 kids playing each hour starting at 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., so we should well exceed that number of activities and we’re really excited,” said Deputy Chief Steve Cerveny with Omaha Police.

The P.A.C.E. program originally started in 2005 from the back of a truck with a few soccer balls. It’s now grown to include thousands of kids with the mission of giving kids a chance.

P.A.C.E. is a nonprofit that offers free athletic programs to thousands of underserved kids in the metro.

“There’s so many different opportunities for them and unfortunately that’s the way the streets are as well. So we’re to give them an opportunity through sports to succeed and hope that they carry that on with them,” said Saul Soltero with P.A.C.E. Athletics.

The program pairs kids with local law enforcement and first responders in team sports. It aims to build a stronger relationship with the surrounding neighborhoods and reduce juvenile crime.

Games like these honor Omaha Police Detective Kerrie Orozco, who was killed in the line of duty in 2015. She was passionate about the P.A.C.E. program.

“The whole P.A.C.E. mission is really in large part dedicated to Kerrie Orozco, as well as what we do with the Nebraska Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors. That’s the reason our organization exists,” said Deputy Chief Cerveny.

“Our hopes are they might get passionate about baseball, but more than anything there’s some accountability taught out here: being on time, wearing your uniform correctly. Our hopes are it passes it onto the classroom. We’re not trying to make college or professional baseball players, we’re trying to make good citizens,” said Soltero.

P.A.C.E. will be hosting their baseball and soccer finales the next two weekends:

Baseball Finale: Saturday, July 30th, 2022 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Located at: Christie Heights Baseball Complex, 5105 South 37th St.

Soccer finale: Saturday, August 6th, 2022 (game times TBA)

Located at: Bob Campos Soccer Complex, 5035 South 33rd St.

Awards will be given to players at the end of each game throughout the day.

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