GIRARD, Ohio (WKBN) – The first Fallen Hero 324 Softball Tournament took place Friday in Girard to honor the city’s fallen officer Justin Leo.
It was an event simply started as an idea and a chance encounter — and it quickly grew from there.
If you ask Justin Leo’s parents, it’s the perfect way to honor their son.
“It kind of helps make it a little easier when we stop to remember what we’ve lost,” mother Pat Leo said.Video – Officer Leo’s mother: “Justin would be honored”
A month and a half after Girard Officer Justin Leo’s passing, the community is still finding ways to rally behind the Leo family and the Girard Police Department.
“It’s a brotherhood,” said Ryan Bonacci, chief of Mercy Health Police Dept. “One of our brothers or sisters fall, we all rally together and support each other. So it’s important to come out, support the family and support his memory.”
Fourteen teams participated in the first annual softball tournament at Creekside Golf Dome. They were: Mahoning Co. Sheriff’s Office (two teams), Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Girard PD, Warren PD, Youngstown PD, Warren City Schools, Girard Baseball Association, Mercy Health PD, Girard City Schools, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Teamsters and Tommy Watts (Girard city corker).
It’s significant considering Justin’s love of baseball.
“He’d be the first one here playing — probably agitating, too, knowing Justin,” Pat Leo said.Video – Organizer: Community helped fundraiser fall into place
Justin’s parents hope his legacy will live on through his scholarship fund.
“Justin just enjoyed being with people,” Pat Leo said. “Being able to interact with them, help them when he could — he lived for those moments.”
“We always knew we lived in a great community,” father David Leo said. “We see things like this and it just reinforces what a great place Girard is to raise your kids and just be part of this community.”
Friday’s event also featured a 50/50 raffle, auction, cash bar and concession stand. All of the proceeds go directly to the Leo family for Justin’s Scholarship fund.