First responders are all-stars at Fightin Phils game

More than 4,800 at Appreciation Day

Det. Sgt. R. Brian Horner of Northern Berks Regional Police throws out the first pitch at First Responder Appreciation Day Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
With a baseball cap and sunglasses shielding him from the searing sun, Donald G. Aiman of Flying Hills settled in for an afternoon of baseball Sunday.

The retired Spring Township police sergeant was one of the more than 4,800 first responders who attended Sunday's Reading Fightin Phils game at FirstEnergy Stadium for free as part of First Responder Appreciation Day.

Aiman sat along the first baseline with his daughter, Molly, 13, and girlfriend, Ruth Ostaficiuk of Bethlehem, anxious to cheer on the Fightin Phils.

"It's a great event, to be out and enjoying a Phillies game and to do that with a bunch of your family and friends," he said.

Aiman, who retired after being injured in the line of duty, said this is the first appreciation event he's ever attended.

"It's a great recognition," he said. "Hopefully they are planning to make this an annual thing."

Event organizer Mark Malizzi of Thunder Outreach, a faith-based community group, hopes to do just that and possibly more by expanding the event to cover several Sundays next year so that more first responders can attend.

He said his goal was to create a fun, relaxed day for first responders to spend with their families.

"It's a simple event," he said. "It's just a way to say thank you for what they do for the community."

Malizzi threw out a first pitch along with representatives from two other event sponsors: Jessica Prutzman from Berks Fire Water Restorations Inc. and Detective Sgt. R. Brian Horner of Northern Berks Regional Police and the president of the local chapter of the Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club.

Together, Malizzi said event sponsors were able to purchase tickets for 5,000 seats at Sunday's game against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats to give out to local police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel. All first responders in attendance were recognized before the game began.

"We can never say thank you enough to our first responders," Malizzi said.

Horner, who has served as a first responder in several capacities throughout his career, said it's important to recognize and say thank you to these people.

"When there's an emergency, everyone else runs away, but first responders run in to help those in need," he said.

Prutzman, the communications director for Berks Fire Water, said the organization was more than happy to do its part in helping with the event.

"As a sponsor, it feels great to give back to first responders for the sacrifice they give every day," she said.

Contact Stephanie Weaver: 610-371-5042 or sweaver@readingeagle.com.
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