It isn’t hard to see that my dad was one of my heroes growing up. I mean I write about him a lot and we still talk several times a week despite only seeing each other once or twice a year.

While I always talk about the lessons I learned from him on and off the fields, or anecdotes from his playing days long gone. The biggest sense of pride I had was being able to say that he was a firefighter.

It was just plain cool, growing up and seeing my dad leave for work knowing he was off fighting fires and saving lives. As a loud-mouth little kid, I often ran my mouth about his profession — and as a loud-mouth journalist it seems I’m doing the same with my fingers this time.

But after watching my pops for 22 years go out and perform his civic duties, I always have a soft spot for firefighter and anyone that puts their life on the line so regular schmucks like me can keep doing what we love.

That is why I tip my cap to the firefighter and police department benefit game between Staples boys hockey co-op and Norwalk-McMahon co-op that will be played this Saturday at 8 p.m. at the SoNo Ice House.

There are many times when sports and life can blind together and it came become bigger than the game, this is one of those opportunities for those that are playing and attending the benefit.

As a son of a retired firefighter, I understand the sacrifices that comes with the job. Although it was cool to talk about my dad’s job to all my friends and teammates — it didn’t hit me until I was older that every time my dad left the house to go to work, he was putting himself in harms way for his family.

The same can obviously be said about police officers, who’s sacrifices shouldn’t be compared because they are truly unique in their own right. Although my dad was a fireman, my cousin was a police officer.

My former high school coach was a retired police officer. Someone would be hard pressed to find a person that doesn’t know a public servant. That is why this benefit is so important — it hits home for everyone.

“It’s pretty cool,” Staples senior Sam New said in the John Nash article, “Westport and Norwalk are pretty close geographically and a lot of us know each other, and it’s a cool thing for us to do in our senior year. There’s nothing wrong with playing a game and helping out a local fire department. It’s something you can be proud of for the rest of your life.”

Being able to put the X’s and O’s on the back burner for a night and put the people that deserve to be on the center stage the opportunity to do so — it will be a night to remember.

My dad was able to finish out his 22 years of service pretty much unscathed — a few bangs and bruises — but nothing major.

I understand that isn’t always the case for firefighters and police officers, so anytime a benefit can be done. It should.

And kudos to the players, coaches, and organizers of the game. And obvious kudos to the men and women that protect our communities each and every day.

ajohnson@hearstmedia; Twitter: @aronJohnson_