Memorial softball tournament to raise money for mental health support for first responders

Sgt. Cory Slifko of the South St. Paul Police Department died by suicide after struggling with PTSD and other mental health issues related to his time in uniform. (Supplied)

Police officers are coming together on the softball diamond this weekend to remember one of their own and to raise money for mental health resources to combat suicide among those in uniform.

"It’s the memory of Cory now, whatever we can do to help him," said Sgt. Jeremiah Simonson of the Rosemount Police Department.

Cory Slifko was a proud 20-year veteran of the South St. Paul Police Department. In his law enforcement career he did it all, reaching the rank of sergeant. At home, he was a husband and father of two.

Tragically, Slifko died by suicide in November 2019. Those close to him report he suffered from post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues related to his time in uniform.

"It’s hard to see someone you know lose that battle," said Sgt. Simonson, a friend of the Slifko family. "If it happens to Cory, to me it can happen to almost anyone. It’s hard."

This weekend, Simonson and the Slifko family are organizing and hosting the Cory Slifko Memorial Softball Tournament at Stelzel Fields just outside Farmington on Saturday. The event is bringing together 16 teams made of up entirely of police officers and law enforcement from across the state.

The goal is to have some fun, build camaraderie and raise money for something near and dear to the Slifkos: mental health resources and suicide prevention efforts for first responders. All of the proceeds are going to the Invisible Wounds Project.

"The old mentality is still there that you signed up for the job, suck it up, don’t talk about it and don’t bring it home," said Mike Hendricks of the Invisible Wounds Project. "You have to realize this job affects people. And it affects them negatively. They’re going to everybody’s worst day, every day. Multiple times a day. It’s going to affect you, somehow, some way, it will affect you."