The Region's Team Of Northwest Indiana


Oilmen to hold First Responders Night on July 22

07/14/2016 4:04 PM -

Whiting, Ind. – July 14, 2016 – Day in and day out, our first responders of law enforcement, firefighters and EMT Services are there when needed to deliver protection and keep people safe.

Now, it’s time for us to show our support and gratitude for these men and women. The Northwest Indiana Oilmen will host First Responders Night on Friday, July 22 as the Oilmen host the DuPage County Hounds at 7:20 p.m. at Oil City Stadium.

Pregame festivities begin at 7 p.m. Tickets sales will benefit the Special Olympics Indiana, which helps children and adults compete in their own specialized sports with like abilities. Order preferred tickets at by entering the promo code “FIRST.”

“What’s more American than baseball and hotdogs?” former Portage and East Chicago Chief of Police Mark Becker said. “I think the country is in a little bit of disarray when it comes to our relationships between our police and our citizens. We can meet with each other and see that we’re all human being and we’re people just trying to do our jobs and make sure people go home safely at night.”

Lake County Deputy Chief of Police Dan Murchek echoed the idea that the game will give first responders an opportunity to interact with attendees in a casual setting.

“I think it’ll be a good thing for the community since everyone will have the opportunity to shake some hands, say thank you and express appreciation,” Murchek said. “You don’t get rich being a first responder, it’s in your heart and blood. Serving the community is why you do it.”

There seems to be no time better than the present to express gratitude for what first responders do for their communities.

“I think there’s a need for it now more than ever with the things that have happened in this country,” Murchek said. “Our first responders run in whenever everybody is running out of a situation. The majority of people in this country are in with us and respect what we do. You don’t have an opportunity to hear that very often, the way things have been the last few years.”

Becker said the night will provide fans with the chance to get to know first responders rather than judge them quickly or harshly.

“It’s a great night to come out and watch a good baseball game, and maybe climb on a firetruck or look inside a police car to see all the different gadgets they have inside,” Becker said.

Schererville Chief of Police Dave Dowling expressed his gratitude toward the Oilmen organization for choosing to hold this event.

“I’m sure it’ll be a great summer evening,” Dowling said. “I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of my colleagues in law enforcement, firefighters, EMS people and people from across all of the communities in Northwest Indiana. I look forward to all of the organizations getting involved. It’ll be a great atmosphere that is great for our community.”

Whiting Fire Chief Gus Danielides is also excited for First Responders Night.

“Even when my guys are off duty, they’re on call,” Danielides said. “When we respond to a call, people aren’t looking at the names on our uniforms. Going to the game in plain clothes, shaking hands with people and being recognized is great.”

Lake County Firefighters Union President Ed Lomeli looks forward to sharing the night with his fellow first responders.

“It’s a good feeling that people recognize you and what you do for a career,” Lomeli said. “Everybody has bad days in this job, every day can’t be a good day. We see some bad things, so it’s good when people recognize you and thank you for what you do.”

Tickets are available now for only $10 and can be purchased by visiting and selecting preferred tickets. The first responders involved in the event expressed their joy that proceeds are benefiting Special Olympics Indiana.

“There are many great causes out there, but this one certainly rose to the top,” Becker said. “A lot of first responders are familiar with Special Olympics and have donated time and effort to those events. When it was brought up, it was really a no-brainer and a great way to give back to society. It’s certainly money well spent, that’s for sure.”

Oilmen President and Owner Don Popravak said his family knows firsthand the sacrifices first responders make to keep our communities safe. His father, uncle and nephew-in-law were all Chicago police officers and another uncle was a Chicago firefighter.

“As a young boy, I remember telling people I met about the jobs they were doing,” Popravak said. “I knew it was important and I was very proud of them. I am delighted that my organization can help give all of us the opportunity to say thank you.”

The public will have the opportunity to see both Police and Fire Departments’ specialized units up close, including Lake Country SWAT, K-9, Air Rescue, Fire Department Vehicles and Horse Posse. The Lake County Sheriff’s Pipes & Drums Unit will provide pregame entertainment, while Billy Wayne will be on hand to perform his unique country sound.