Cornhole tournament in memory of slain Mass. K-9 draws hundreds

Proceeds from the event will go to support Braintree police officers and the Working Dog Foundation


By Wheeler Cowperthwaite
The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.

BRAINTREE, Mass. — Hundreds gathered at French's Common in Braintree on Sunday for a cornhole tournament and fundraiser in the memory of Kitt, the Braintree K-9 killed in a shootout between a man and two officers on June 3.

Organizer Kay Young said Kitt's handler, Officer Bill Cushing, is a good friend. Cushing appeared at the fundraiser with his arm in a sling and threw the first ceremonial shot, landing on the cornhole board.

Team members take aim at cornhole boards during a benefit cornhole competition for Braintree K-9 Kitt and officers who were shot in June.
Team members take aim at cornhole boards during a benefit cornhole competition for Braintree K-9 Kitt and officers who were shot in June. (Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger)

Cushing and Officer Matthew Donoghue were both shot while Andrew Homen, 34, died from a gunshot wound at the scene, in the woods behind Braintree Village on McCusker Drive.

Young said she was approached by Morrey Eglin of Boston Baggo, a cornhole association, about putting on a fundraiser. Young runs the Braintree Beer Garden and is no stranger to putting on events.

Eglin said he wanted to organize a fundraiser because one of his best friends works for the Braintree Police Department.

After they received a liquor license on June 22, they started making calls to make the cornhole tournament and beer garden happen, Young said.

"Something like this happens and everyone thinks, how can they help, but they don't know what to do, so we decided to take the guessing out and provide an environment to help," Young said.

Young said the event proceeds will go toward the Working Dog Foundation and the Braintree Police Officers Support Fund.

She said she plans to repeat the event yearly.

Braintree Mayor Charles Kokoros said Kitt will be missed and that the dog helped to deescalate countless situations. The fundraiser shows that in Braintree, the residents are about police officers.

Colin Peratt came to the tournament, and signed up to compete with three buddies, because his brother is friends with Cushing, although they expected to be last in the 72-team rankings. Joe Zanca, in Peratt's group, said he is friends with Cushing and wanted to show his support. He was also impressed by the level of organization.

"It's like they've been planning this for three months," he said.

Dennis Henderson, a retired Conneticut state trooper, said he came out because he wanted to show support for the law enforcement community, something that is "missing in our society today."

Meghan Bennett came out with a group of 15 friends, from Braintree and Randolph, because she works for the funeral home that put on Kitt's funeral service.

[READ: 10 ways patrol officers can help the K-9 unit]

"I came out to show my support," she said.

Bennett's cornhole partner, Kyle Moore, said he thought he would do alright in the tournament, but he only plays backyard cornhole.

Bill Lentz started practicing before the tournament with Collin Tracey, although the two men had not met before.

"He seems to be throwing pretty well, but I think we came out for fun, not to win," Lentz said about Tracey.

Lentz said he keeps his cornhole boards in the back of his truck, ready to play any time and any place.

When asked if the boards were further apart than they are used to, both men answered in unison, "It's 27 feet apart."

Tracey said he keeps a tape measure in his car while Lentz measured his foot, which is about 1 foot, and uses it to mark distance.

Tracey said his tournament partner was his friend's father, Leo McGovern II.

McGovern II said his he is competing against his own son, Leo McGovern III, but he thought he had a pretty good chance of ending higher in the rankings.

"We play every Sunday, and the thing I like about it is, it's all ages," McGovern II said. "You don't have to be young and in shape."

McGovern III said he just wants to beat his dad.

"Friendly competition keeps it interesting," McGovern III said.

(c)2021 The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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