Cops, firefighters, EMS go to bat for local family

Guns & Hoses game to benefit E.B. boy, 6, battling brain cancer


In a photo from 2007, Brett Fegel, then 5, and his parents Fred and Kristen look at gifts provided to the family by K. Hovnanian Trade Partners Council. In a photo from 2007, Brett Fegel, then 5, and his parents Fred and Kristen look at gifts provided to the family by K. Hovnanian Trade Partners Council. EAST BRUNSWICK – The annual Guns & Hoses charity softball game has helped a different township family pay bills related to a sick child in each of the past four years.

If there was ever a local family in need of such help, it is this year’s beneficiary. The June 20 game that pits East Brunswick police against fire and first-aid volunteers will raise funds for the family of Brett Fegel, a 6-year-old boy battling brain cancer.

Brett has endured more than 15 surgeries in the past nine months, and has spent the better part of six months living at Hackensack UniversityMedical Center. Medical bills are streaming in and are expected to amount to millions of dollars, with the family responsible for 20 percent of those costs.

Brett’s father, Fred, meanwhile, has also battled cancer over the past two years. And though he has recovered well after surgery and radiation treatment, he remains unemployed – spending most of his time at his son’s bedside. Brett’s mother, Kristen, works as a pharmacy technician, providing the family with its limited health insurance.

“This is a very worthwhile cause,” said East Brunswick Patrolman Jim Angermeier, who helps organize the game each year. “It’s gigantic, just for the fact that this is a huge family, but they still are in dire need of help from the community.”

In 2007, Brett, who had been suffering headaches and vomiting, was found to have a brain tumor. He would undergo several surgeries, first to remove the tumor and insert a shunt in his brain to drain fluids, and later due to an infection and problems with the shunt. He has also undergone radiation, chemotherapy and physical therapy.

Brett came home from the hospital a few weeks ago, with hospice care. He was taken off hospice when he began to improve and was able to breath deep enough to clear carbon dioxide from his lungs. He was rushed back to the hospital last week, however, due a mucous build-up that affected his breathing.

Fred said Monday that he was hopeful Brett would be cleared to return home again some time this week.

Angermeier said he learned about Brett when he received a letter from Dr. Arno Fried, director of pediatric neurosurgery at Hackensack. Fried explained Brett’s situation and the fact that he had open surgeries on his brain. Fried knew the police department had done prior benefits for children in town.Angermeier soon met with Fred Fegel, and he and another officer would later visit Brett in his Hackensack hospital room and, more recently, at Brett’s home in East Brunswick.

“He’s been tremendous,” Angermeier said of Brett. “He has a 3-year-old sister [Kelly], and being around her and the family, his whole demeanor and his color have changed from when he was in the hospital.”

As Brett and his family have battled illness and endured the long path to recovery, many have embraced them and provided support. The young hockey fan, for example, received visits from NHL great Martin Brodeur and other New Jersey Devils players, and he was the namesake and beneficiary of a two-day ice hockey event in Old Bridge in March. Most importantly, the extended Fegel family has been there for Brett.

“The members of this family are outstanding people,” Angermeier said. “They have a huge heart, and they’re very strong, for what they’ve been going through.”

The local community is also stepping up, with the upcoming Guns & Hoses game, for example. Numerous businesses have donated

raffle prizes,

ranging from electronics to a three-day trip.

“You name the restaurant in town … every one of them has donated something,” Angermeier said, noting the wide array of gift card prizes. “On top of that, we have numerous donations from people in town and outside of town.”

Organizers hope to top last year’s benefit, which raised approximately $9,000 for an 8-year-old East Brunswick girl with Ewing’s sarcoma. The year before, the event brought in $6,000 for an 8-year-old with a blood disorder.

Fred said the family has been touched by the kindness and support shown by people like Angermeier and East Brunswick Patrolman Sean Taulane, who are helping with the event. He noted that Angermeier calls or stops by about every other day.

“He’s above and beyond the call of duty,” Fred said. “Talking to him, or to anyone, is therapeutic for us and has been helpful for us to get through this. It goes a long way.”

The community as a whole, he said, has been “really special” as it seeks to help the family pay the bills and get by.

“There are more and more bills … They’re in the millions probably, just for Brett. So, we’re trying to [afford] just the basics, holding onto our house, buying food and stuff for our son and daughter,” Fred said. “We don’t want to move. It’s Brett’s house, it’s his domain. To put him anywhere else is not fair to him.”

To make a donation, contact officers Angermeier or Taulane at 732-390-6969, visit the PBA Web site at, or write a check to the Brett Fegel Fund and mail it to East Brunswick PBA Local 145, Attn: Guns & Hoses Game, P.O. Box 4, East Brunswick, NJ, 08816. Donations made to the family through the PBA are tax deductible.

While the public is urged to donate money and buy raffle tickets, it is also invited to enjoy the game itself, for which there is no admission charge. The game offers a chance for the township’s emergency service personnel to get together and have fun for a good cause. The police have traditionally won big over the firefighters and Rescue Squad members, and Angermeier noted that he offered to mix up the teams this year, but the fire department would not have it.

So, if history is any indication, the game will fall in favor of the blue, but the outcome is not what matters to those who play, Angermeier said. The cause is the most important aspect.And the players always have a lot of laughs.

“There is always a lot of mocking back and forth, and there’s camaraderie between the police and firemen and the EMS,” he said. “We get along pretty well with each other. Everyone comes together and has a good time.”

The game will run from 6 to 9 p.m. June 20 at Baseball Manager’s Field, Dunhams Corner Road.