First responders suit up on the gridiron for the Indiana Stampede

Hoosier Heroes

Police officers, firefighters and first responders are suiting up in uniform, even when they’re off the clock.

These Hoosier Heroes are forming a bond over their love of football.

“We’re living old dreams from high school and college and just every little kid’s dream to come out here and play ball again,” said Aaron Graham with the Columbus Police Department.

Graham is a member of the Indiana Stampede, one of 20 teams in the National Public Safety Football League.

Rosters are composed of full-time officers, firefighters, EMTs and other first responders. The camaraderie extends well beyond the football field.

“It kind of helps bring everybody together, bring spirits up,” Graham said.

“One of the things I like about this is that we can meet guys from all the way on the other side, all the way out to California, down to Texas, Florida, New York—it’s just a brother-sisterhood,” said Eric Vaughan, president of the Indiana Stampede. “We don’t play for money, we don’t play for fame, nothing like that, it’s all played for charity.”

The team is a nonprofit organization that works to enhance the community through outreach programs and proceeds from games.

“It kind of gives that relief getting away from the hustle and bustle of the job and just coming out and having a good time and doing it for a good cause,” Vaughan said.

“This is good way to blow off steam, get out, relax, forget about everything going on in the world right now and focus on football,” Graham said.

“But at the end of the day, we’re going to hug it out and have tea and crumpets afterwards,” said Brandon Hubner with the South Bend Fire Department.

The Stampede is one of the smallest teams in the league, and sometimes players can’t be at games or practice because of their shifts. Players must be full-time public safety officials.

Have a hero in your life? Nominate them for Hoosier Heroes.

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