Royals fans raise $100K for fallen firefighters

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Kansas City, MO (KCTV) – The Royals and their generous fans honored the memory of two fallen Kansas City firefighters during Game 5 of the American League Division Series Wednesday night.

Royals Charities donated net proceeds from the 50/50 Raffle to the Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund (SAFE), administered by the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission, as well as IAFF Local 42.

The raffle broke through the previous record and raised $100,336. The winning number is F338686.

Katie Gieseke and Bobby Morgan spent $40, and their tickets included the winning one. They will share $50,168.

“It’s going to pay off a lot of debt. Student loans, my car payments,” Gieseke said.

The record-setting raffle was during a sold-out playoff game attended by family members of Larry Leggio, 43, and John Mesh, 39, who died Monday night when a section of an apartment building collapsed while crews were battling a blaze.

The Royals surrounded the families with as much support as possible.

“We knew it was the right thing to do to have the proceeds of the 50/50 raffle go to the fallen firefighters’ families,” said Marie Dispenza, director of Royals charities. “Yesterday was an amazing day for Kansas City. It’s everything that I love that all of us love about this city. We’re true sports fans and we’re true fans of our heroes.”

Backup catcher Drew Butera met with family members before the game. Butera has family members who are firefighters.

Fans roared to show their families that the city supports them as they grieve.

The two fallen heroes were then remembered during a moment of silence before the game. In the soundless moments, the two lives were remembered for all that they were: life savers, sons, husbands and one a father.

It appeared that Mesh’s four young daughters were among the family members on the field.

“After this tragedy, less than 48 hours later we get to have 40,000 people recognize them and thank them for their service,” said Toby Cook, vice president of community affairs and publicity for the Royals.

Outside in the parking lot, fans also honored Leggio and Mesh.

“People, sometimes they pass away doing what they love. You love your profession and do it the best you can,” sand Royals fan Bruce Heizman.

The fans are thankful their team put the game aside to show that the baseball town bands together during tragedy.

“They are just in the beginning stages of their grief right now, but I think later on it will help them when they look back,” Rosemary Baker said.

By Emily Rittman

KCTV5’s Bonyen Lee contributed to this report.