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Sumter man builds obstacles in upcoming 'Battle Buddies' event connecting kids, first responders

Each year, Sumter's annual Battle Buddies Event attracts hundreds for food, friends and an obstacle course connecting kids and first responders.

SUMTER, S.C. — If you want to find a labor of love, the Sherberts' backyard is a good place to start.

Mike Sherbert is the mastermind behind a yard full of colorful creations forming obstacles he hopes kids and adults can enjoy.

His wife Bonnie calls him, "the obstacle course builder guru," but Mike says "helping hand," is the only title he needs.

It is his passion after all.

"I love fixing things," Mike said. "That's just something that's inherent within me. Doesn't matter what it is."

Having a heart for helping others makes him a perfect fit for the Palmetto Optimist Club, one of more than 2,500 Optimist International branches across the country working to bring out the best in children.

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"We thought, what kind of obstacles could we acquire or build, that sort of thing, that would be fun for the kids," Mike said.

The idea stems from military roots with others in the group deciding on the name "Battle Buddies" for their first obstacle event in 2016.

"Really to signify the partnership between the children and the community, and our first responders," Bonnie said.

Each year the children face different obstacles, side by side with first responders.

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"They'll hop from one tire to the next," Bonnie said.

A ladder wall, tire crawl, and trampoline painted in shades of red, yellow, and blue are also part of the course.

Credit: Bonnie Sherbert
Battle Buddies Obstacles

"Bright colors, lightweight, but the main thing, like I said, was safety," Mike said.

Mike, who is retired Air Force, plans all year for the event, which returns Nov. 6.

This mission, he said, "is about the kids."

"Bringing the community together with the first responders and the kids just having fun," Mike said.

The Palmetto Optimist Club's free 'Battle Buddies' event is next Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Patriot Park soccer fields located at 380 General Drive in Sumter.

Food, face painting, dance teams, a bounce house, and more are expected.

Those interested in volunteering for the event should connect with the Palmetto Optimist Club online.