Bridge the Gap brings community together - WNEM TV 5

Bridge the Gap brings community together

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SAGINAW COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

Tensions across the country have led to a divide between law enforcement and the community in many areas, but an event in Mid-Michigan aims to bridge that gap.

It’s an annual basketball tournament at Saginaw Valley State University.

“So when they may see me out on the street a month or two or a year later, they say 'hey sheriff, how are ya doin','” Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel said.

Federspiel admits there can be a divide between youth and law-enforcement, but that’s exactly why he said he takes part in the “Bridge the Gap” basketball tournament.

“It’s not the kids playing basketball against the police officers, it’s us playing with them on the same team,” Federspiel said.

Bay City Public Safety Director Michael Cecchini said he couldn’t agree more. He is a coach for the tournament.

“I’m basically managing chaos, but it’s fun. It’s really fun trying to coach a team and get these kids playing together,” Cecchini said.

Bridge the Gap is now in its third year and the founder, Ayiteh Sowah, said it’s his way of giving back.

“We had a lot of incidents where we had a lot of shootings from the police and from the community, both ways throughout the country and we can sit around and talk about it or we can try to do our little part about it. So this is me doing my little part,” Sowah said.

The event is more than just a basketball tournament, there will be a raffle and a live auction full of autographed authentic prizes. Sowah said there will even be a surprise guest.

“We have a bubble soccer. We play a huge dodgeball game. We have a lot of fun activities and we have a special guest that’s gonna come and do a dunk contest. That’s going to do several dunks for us,” Sowah said.

The event is Saturday at 11 a.m. at the SVSU Ryder Center. Tickets are $5 and include food, drinks, and a raffle entry.

TV5’s Chris Easlick, Nick Austin, and Meg McLeod will be playing. TV5 is a proud sponsor of the event.

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