Competing for autism and Alzheimerâ??s awareness

A healthy competition between some of Horry County's finest was on display Sunday.

Myrtle Beach's Police Department and Fire Departments along with Horry County Fire Rescue and County Police took the diamond in Market Common.

For about six years, the four departments have competed for bragging rights at the 'Guns and Hoses' softball tournament.

But along with the good fun for the police officers and fire fighters, they play the game to raise money and awareness for autism and Alzheimerâ??s.

"It's a good event to raise awareness for autism services throughout Horry County," said Lt. Jamie DeBari, with the Horry County Police Department. "It's a lot of fun to come out here and be with your coworkers, representing your department, playing the other departments."

Myrtle Beach Fire Department, the defending champs for three years, didn't make it to the championship game this year.

Instead, it came down to the county departments, between an age old rivalry, police officers versus fire fighters.

"It's great because we run into the fire department out on the street and the other officers in the county. So itâ??s good to let all that go for a little while and come out here and have some fun," said officer Michael McMahone, with Myrtle Beach police.

In between the competitive game, there was also time for some friendly banter among the departments.

"We know all the policemen are the guys that failed their test for firefighter," said Paul Crutchfield, with Horry County fire rescue.

They may have all been competing on the field, but they were all rooting for the same cause.

SOS, an autism health clinic, has a radio transmitting bracelet for kids with autism and adults with Alzheimerâ??s.

It's called Project Life Saver.

SOS works with the departments to teach them about individuals with these types of disorders. "We do all year training with the officers and fire fighters so they understand the disorder, how to approach somebody with the disability. So all that ties together and really helps aid the search and rescue if someone tends to go missing," said Monique Clemente, the project coordinator for Project Life Saver.

While the participants in the softball tournament are already heroes in their day jobs, on Sunday, each man and woman went above and beyond to help those in need.

"We are just doing a job that we love to do," said Crutchfield.

This year, Horry County Police won the 'Guns and Hoses' championship, 9 to 1.

The departments raised almost $2,000 at this year's tournament.