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Thank you, Farmington.

Thanks to your generosity, every athlete competing on the three local softball teams in this summer's Special Olympics will, for the first time, all have their very own ball glove to keep before and after the games.

Thanks to your donations, a dedicated social worker later this week will be working with local foster parents to give 8- and 10-year-olds their first baseball gloves, and because of that, finally a chance to play the game of baseball for the first time in their lives.

Thanks to your gifts, a boarding school deep on the Navajo Reservation will be given enough batting helmets and various other items to equip two teams of teenagers who are battling enemies like diabetes, poverty, abandonment and suicide.

Thanks to your time shared in volunteering to play, work or give at Sunday's Guns n Hoses event, a lot of people had a really, really good time.

The inaugural Guns n Hoses benefit softball game was a tremendous success Sunday, as hundreds of fans streamed past the gates at Ricketts Park by first paying the price of admission with donations of gloves, bats, balls, helmets, bases, cleats and anything else that could help needy young children or Special Olympians use baseball to better enjoy life.

The cold and sprinkles of May snow kept others from attending, but not from donating, as dozens more made drive-by dropoffs with more items.


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The equipment all goes to the Glove with Love program hosted at The Daily Times, and the softball gloves collected Sunday specifically will go to the Special Olympics teams, which in years past competed in the summer games by sharing gloves and bats from the same dusty old box.

The first two innings of play Sunday included Special Olympians on both teams, wearing red with the firefighters or blue with the police. It does the heart a lot of good to see these athletes play for the real joy of the game as it is intended.

They celebrated every hit, every out, every run and every smile.

Any other coach out there who wants to inspire his/her team should consider making it mandatory to go watch these guys and gals play. They know how to do it the right way and could teach other teams quite a bit.

There was a short break between those innings and the rivalry police vs. fire five innings, and during that break the Farmington Firefighters Association, a union representing local firefighters, made the wonderful donation on the field of 25 newly purchased softball gloves. Seeing those new gloves dumped on the field made a great impression, especially since some of those gloves soon will be on the hands of some of the special players on the field Sunday with loaners.

Giving from the police came in a huge dose via two community service officers in particular. Sunday's game would not have been the success it was without organizers Jenny Dennis and Shawn Archuleta.

Another thing about the generosity of Farmington's police and fire personnel that you may not know is that nearly two dozen of them volunteered time Friday afternoon to come to The Daily Times to clean and repair used gloves and equipment already donated.

Police Chief Kyle Westall suggested earlier this year that his department get involved with Glove with Love, and Fire Chief Terry Page jumped on board soon after. Others behind the scenes include the Recreation Department folks who did a wonderful job of preparing the field at Rickets and cleaning up after, and those within the city ranks who gave a thumbs up to this wonderful project.

The police, by the way, won the game by a rather convincing score of 22-3, and clearly they came loaded with gamers who can play. The guys in blue ripped the ball to all parts of the field, and they knew how to use the glove.

The firefighters, however, had the top two plays of the day. One was a fantastic running catch in left field, and the other came in the early innings when one of the firefighters raced onto the field and placed a big box of donuts beside each base.

The cops took the bait, and ate it.

It was all about fun Sunday, and fun it was.

T-shirt giveaways, prizes from raffle drawings, the wonderful voice of Erin Thompson singing the national anthem, the serving attitude of countless unnamed volunteers, the smell of the concession stand and the loud and continuous rounds of applause from the cheerful audience made it a simply wonderful afternoon.

Thanks, folks.

You're all winners, and because of you, others will feel like winners now, too.

Kudos!

Troy Turner is the editor of The Daily Times. He can be contacted online at tturner@daily-times.com, or at P.O. Box 450, Farmington, NM 87499.