Kozminski memorial games to benefit deputies’ son

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — This year’s Robert Kozminski memorial basketball game between the Grand Rapids Police Department and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department will help two of their own as they honor the fallen officer.

Kailey and Lance Gilbert are Kent County sheriff’s deputies and parents of a little boy who, at just 5 months old, has spent a lot of time in the hospital.

“We found out while we were pregnant with him that he was going to have Down syndrome and he had a heart condition called tetralogy of Fallot. He’s got a hole in his heart,” Lance Gilbert explained.

There were also problems with two major arteries.

But thanks to doctors at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Wyatt has turned a corner.

“He’s doing really well,” Kailey Gilbert said.

“He’s a happy little baby now,” his dad added.

In times like these, most rely on their family for support. In the Gilberts’ case, family is both blood- and badge-related.

“The people here, their hearts are so big. They like see you struggling the slightest bit. And they just go above and beyond,” Kailey Gilbert said. “Making sure that we’re OK, he’s OK, that we have enough time to spend with him. Making sure that he recovers well and we can get to all of his doctor’s appointments.”

“They really made sure we knew that family comes first,” Lance Gilbert said.

He has been with the sheriff’s department for two years and his wife for four.

GRPD Officer Robert Kozminski, known as Koz to many of his fellow officers, was shot while investigating a domestic dispute on Grand Rapids’ north side in July 2007.

Each year, GRPD and the sheriff’s department hit the courts to raise money in his name, sometimes for fellow officers and sometimes for other causes. Funds raised at this year’s game will help cover bills the Gilberts’ insurance doesn’t.

In addition to supporting good causes, the games give the public a chance to see another side of law enforcement.

“A lot of times, especially with the job, we have a job to do. We don’t show people our side, like we are all here as a family. So some people don’t see that. They see the negatives,” Lance Gilbert said.

The memorial games tip off at 6 p.m. Saturday at Kenowa Hills High School. The first game will be local police versus Kenowa Hills teachers and the second game will be GRPD versus the sheriff’s office.

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