When retired professional baseball player David Dellucci decided to organize an archery competition to raise money to help law enforcement agencies get new protective gear, he expected most contestants would be skilled outdoorsmen and police officers.
That was true of most of the roughly 150 people who participated in Bulls Eyes and Badges, a fundraiser for the Capital Area Law Enforcement Foundation, on Saturday. But an 18-year-old contestant named Sam Vaughn, who had picked up a bow and arrow only a few times before, caught Dellucci's attention.
Vaughn entered the competition at the Joint Law Enforcement Training Center near Zachary for two reasons. He wanted to learn more about bow hunting and a possible career in law enforcement.
"I just wanted the support for the most part — just being around other people who were really experienced," Vaughn, of Baton Rouge, said after Dellucci introduced him to the crowd of contestants. "Just trying to figure out if it's something I want to do later on in life."
Vaughn's twofold interest in the contest, which served as the inaugural event of the new David Dellucci Foundation, echoed the goals Dellucci said he's aiming to achieve with his organization: improving life for both young people and police officers.
Dellucci — who spent 14 years playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks, the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers, among other MLB teams — wants to organize baseball programs that unite children from neighborhoods throughout Baton Rouge.
"Our youth is our future, and I believe that through sports they learn qualities that make them better citizens," said Dellucci, a Baton Rouge native who moved back home after retiring in 2009.
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He also plans to put on more fundraisers for law enforcement causes. When "you have respectful and responsible youth, and you have law enforcement that feel appreciated, it makes for a much better direction of where the city's going," he said.
Dellucci was hoping to raise at least $50,000 on Saturday. The proceeds will go to the Capital Area Law Enforcement Foundation, which launched after the July 2016 ambush shooting of law enforcement officers on Airline Highway and has collected more than $800,000 to buy protective vests for 35 agencies in and around Baton Rouge.
Saturday's competition had separate divisions for the general public and law enforcement officers. A team from the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office won a bow fishing trip — the grand prize for their division, which required participants to shoot targets set up throughout a wooded area.
Dellucci, a member of CALEF's board of directors, wants to have a second Bulls Eyes and Badges competition in August. He said supporting CALEF is important because many officers wear outdated vests — they have a shelf life of five years — or don't have them at all.
"David is very gracious and has done a great job. ... There are some agencies that really don't have the funds to actually purchase body armor for all of their officers," said Pointe Coupee Sheriff Bud Torres, whose office is awaiting an order of vests paid for by CALEF. He took part in a video promoting the event and was there Saturday with a team of his deputies.
Pat Englade, a former Baton Rouge police chief and chairman of CALEF's board of directors, said agencies often can afford the standard Kevlar vests officers wear under their shirts, which cost about $800 apiece. But sometimes they don't have the budget for the bulkier ballistic vests that go on the outside of uniforms and are about $600 each, Englade said.
The latter type of vests — which can stop bullets fired from rifles — weren't always considered a necessity for every officer.
"When I was a police officer, I'd never worn a vest in my life. I was with the police for 32 years. It's just these last 10 years that it's evolved into these people using these high-powered weapons," Englade said, referring to recent incidents such as the 2016 Baton Rouge shooting in which suspects used those kinds of guns.
Many officers resort to buying their own gear.
"When you've got to go out and put a bunch of money into a vest like that, it's hard on their families," Englade said.
Dellucci said that financial burden only adds to the sacrifice police officers already feel by spending so much of their time away from loved ones to serve their communities.
"What they do for us civilians is extremely special," Dellucci said. "They put their lives on the line every single day for our safety. ... I have a soft spot, and I want to support them."