Franklin — Police officers and firefighters dashed through the kitchen Oct. 17, tossing empty sauce cans and draining large pots of pasta as 1960s-era music played in the background.
Just outside the kitchen doors in the Polish Center of Wisconsin, more than 500 people were enjoying the annual Franklin Fire and Police Spaghetti Dinner.
"This is our 14th year," said Fire Lt. Bob Manke, who coordinated the dinner. "Originally, it just started with the Fire Department, but ever since 9/11, we've been working together with the police. We don't really get to intermingle, but this is the one time of year we can get together and help the community."
The dinner raised about $10,139, which will be divided among the two departments, Kayla's Krew and other community causes. Kayla's Krew, the organization that received the raffle proceeds, is a nonprofit dedicated to the construction of an all-accessible playground for children in Franklin. The group is dedicated to 8-year-old Kayla Runte, who died in 2012 due to complications related to cerebral palsy.
The group's vision is "to enable all who have special needs to forget about the challenges that they are presented with daily while teaching others the value of friendship and compassion," according to the organization's website, KaylasKrew.org. "Kayla's Krew envisions the playground as a platform for the community to embrace all abilities."
The remaining proceeds from the annual event will go to various charities within the community.
"The money that is divided in thirds will ultimately be given back to the community in some shape or form, through things like sponsoring Little League teams to other various requests that we get throughout the year," Manke said.
The spaghetti dinner has grown since it first began and has become an event the community looks forward to, he said.
"It just keeps growing," he said. "People in the community now ask us when the next spaghetti dinner is. It's become something they look forward to."
Police officer Nicole Maramonte said she enjoys the camaraderie behind the event.
"We see (the firefighters) a lot on calls, but we obviously don't have a whole lot of time to talk," Maramonte said. "And it's nice to give people a different aspect of police, because most people just see us during the bad times.
"They get a better look at us from this dinner than when they see us handcuffing someone and putting them in the back of a squad car."
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