Kids, cops connect for fundraising basketball games

Annistyn Janik, 6, gets a boost from Jay Matlock with Just Amazing Youth Sports at the Cops Vs. Kids game on Saturday. Looking on is LCSO Cpl. and Dayton City Councilman John Headrick.

The Fourth Annual Cops Vs. Kids game on Saturday was a huge success for Just Amazing Youth Sports (JAYS), a non-profit that sponsors special-needs kids in the Dayton area as they play youth league sports. Played at the Dayton High School gym, the two Cops Vs. Kids games pitted the young JAYS athletes against members of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Bobby Rader, as well as a few recruits from other agencies.

Since last year’s disappointing loss to the Kids teams, Rader has joked that his deputies have learned to spell basketball even if they still cannot play the game. Rader even brought along his jersey from his college basketball days at Angelina College, but if the sheriff was hoping his jersey would be a good luck charm, he was wrong.

A couple of minutes into the game, it was evident that the youthful enthusiasm of the Kids teams would prevail for the fourth year in a row.

Afieon Roberson throws for a 2-point shot at the Cops Vs. Kids game on Saturday in Dayton. Looking on are Carlos Rodriguez and Liberty County Pct. 5 Deputy Constable Laci Pierce.

When asked if his team had trained in advance of the game, Rader laughingly responded with, “None. I think that’s pretty obvious.”

For the kids who play for JAYS, the annual Cops Vs. Kids game is more than a fundraiser; it’s an opportunity to positively interact with law enforcement and build relationships. This year was by far the highest-attended event since its inception, said JAYS Founder Jay Matlock.

“We are grateful for the support of everyone in the community. I just want to say ‘thank you, thank you’ to everyone who participated in making it a success,” Matlock said.

Through the collection of entrance fees, sponsorships and the sale of auction items, the event raised an estimated $5,000 for JAYS. Two of the biggest donors were Total Access Communications ($600) and Go Texas Metro ($500). Money raised from the event will be used to provide special-needs athletes with equipment, uniforms and other items for basketball, baseball, softball and other sports.

JAYS is now preparing for another Cops Vs. Kids baseball game against the first responders of north Liberty County. Laci Pierce, a deputy constable for Pct. 5 Constable’s Office and a medic supervisor for Allegiance EMS, is heading up this event, which will take place on April 22 at the Tarkington baseball park on FM 160.

If you would like to make a donation to JAYS or are interested in signing up a child for sports, go online to

More information can also be found on the Just Amazing Youth Sports Facebook page:

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