San Bernardino, Riverside County Police and Fire Officials Raise Over $3,000 in Battle of the Badges

By Margie Miller
With the sun high in the sky at San Manuel Stadium Saturday morning, Sept. 27, volunteers dipped their sponges into soapy water buckets and made over 125 cars, trucks and motorcycles shine as the first annual Battle of the Badges Car Wash, hosted by The Unforgettables Foundation (TUF) in conjunction with the Kiwanis Club of Highland, was underway.
Over $3,000 was raised from this first annual fundraiser event, which saw San Bernardino and Riverside county police, firefighters, paramedics and volunteers from San Bernardino and Riverside county police and fire explorer programs working together with members of the Kiwanis Club of Highland’s Key Club, Boy Scouts Troop 45 of Highland and local high school students to wash the steady stream of vehicles pulling in to the stadium.
Shining cars and the American flag strung reverently between two fire trucks weren’t the only things demanding attention; a line of vendors handing out promotional items and selling their products were also on site and visitors browsed their tents as their vehicles were washed.
The Unforgettables Foundation gave thanks to the following sponsors for their support of this event:
A-Check; Apple One; Budget Transmission II; City News Group; Costco Wholesale; Dignity Memorial; Inland Empire 66ers; KFROG; Kiwanis Club of Highland; and Wescom Credit Union.
The Unforgettables Foundation Board Member Mike Horton, who is also the San Bernardino County Fire Department Fire Marshal, chaired the car wash which raised funds to give families dealing with the loss of a child a timely and dignified burial for their lost loved ones.
Deputy Sheriff Vince Coogan of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and his wife Kyleen volunteered their time as a way to give back to TUF after the organization helped them seven years ago when they suffered the loss of a child.
“We don’t tell a lot of people, because it’s something that we feel is private and it’s ours,” said Kyleen, a member of the leadership team of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s spouse support group. Having heard about the Battle of the Badges event and both being involved with law enforcement, Kyleen explained she wanted to help the cause.
Kyleen said, “I just felt moved.”
Recently the Coogans connected TUF to the family of fallen Riverside County Sheriff’s Department official Michael Haugen, who was killed in the line of duty 17 years ago, when his grandson passed away.
“His family needed help and Tim without any hesitation, said, ‘Yes, we’ll take care of it,” Kyleen said of TUF and its founder, Tim Evans. “No one’s ever prepared to lose a child. You’re never financially prepared… so this foundation is key, because when you’re going through something like this and you don’t have any idea which way is even up, they step in and they just take care of everything.”
Founder Tim Evans said, “Over 10 percent of the cases we’ve dealt with in the Inland Empire over the last 15 years have been here in the city of San Bernardino. To be able to do this fundraiser in the city and be supported by so many people who live in San Bernardino was very satisfying.”
While the vehicles were being washed and shined, some voiced their concerns about water usage in a time when drought warnings and water restrictions have been issued throughout the state.
Horton explained that no water was being wasted as a result of the car wash.
“We’ve taken great precautions to make sure we’ve minimized the water use and we’ve talked to the water district to find out what those conditions are and we’re meeting each and every one,” Horton said.
Requirements included the use of shut off nozzles, a minimum number of hose lines, and using water only to rinse the vehicles.
“Otherwise, we’re working out of buckets. We’re doing exactly what the water department authorized us to do, and we are measuring the water that we use today so the water department is fully aware of what’s going on,” Horton concluded.
Overall, Evans and volunteer Kimberly Foglio-Walden of Budget Transmission II in San Bernardino called the event a success.
“It was so great being part of such a fantastic event,” Foglio-Walden said. “We are really learning from this event and we already have some plans for next year.”
Those plans include expansion of the event to possibly include a kid’s zone area and the hope is also to feature more vendors.