When Officer Donovan Heavener returned to the Federal Way Police Department nearly two years ago, he brought new life to the department’s support of Special Olympics.
Heavener worked for the Federal Way Police Department from its inception in 1996 until 2002, when he moved to Wisconsin. He returned to Federal Way in August 2016.
While in Wisconsin, he got involved in fundraising for Special Olympics.
“I had the opportunity as a supervisor to nominate one of my officers as Special Olympics Volunteer of the Year, which he got, and that really inspired me seeing what he had done,” said Heavener, who is assigned as a School Resource Officer at Todd Beamer High School.
Heavener started doing Special Olympics fundraisers with his department in Wisconsin, including the Polar Plunge, where participants raise money by jumping into frigid water, and Run with the Cops 5K, where the community and officers run together.
“I’ve just been enjoying helping out with Special Olympics,” Heavener said. “I just brought all that right along with me here. (Federal Way) had been in it in the past, but it was kind of fizzling out.”
When he returned to Federal Way, Heavener started up a local Run with the Cops 5K, which will have its second annual run Saturday, Aug. 25, and got officers to participate in the Polar Plunge with other departments each February at Owen Beach in Tacoma.
“Let’s just say I jumped in Wisconsin a bunch of times, so this is mild water compared to Wisconsin,” Heavener said of the Polar Plunge.
The department already was involved with Tip-A-Cop, where officers raise money by serving at Red Robin, and the Law Enforcement Torch Run, where officers from across the state run with the Special Olympics torch. While the torch run does bring in some money though the sale of T-shirts, it also raises awareness for the games and supports the athletes.
“It is more about us being able to carry the Flame of Hope across the state,” Heavener said. “There are a lot of athletes along the course that are cheering us on.”
Last year, Federal Way police raised $16,000 for Special Olympics. Statewide, law enforcement brought in $500,000.
Heavener said he tries to volunteer at the Special Olympic games whenever he can.
“After I got involved in getting to the games, just seeing the joy in the athletes’ faces when the police are around giving them their medals or cheering them on, that is what it is really about,” he said. “It’s me being able to give back to the community and helping people participate in events that they may never be able to. The athletes don’t pay any money for Special Olympics. It is solely funded through fundraising.”
He is helping at this year’s USA Games, which take place in Seattle area, including Federal Way, from July 1 through 6. Heavener is part of the logistic team, which is coordinating the final legs of the torch run across the state.
Participation and support from the department is what makes the fundraising a success, Heavener said.
“This is really about the department and working as a team to do this,” he said. “A lot of people say I am the one that is leading it up, but if I don’t have the support from the department none of this would be happening. This whole thing is a team effort by the department, which is what I love.”
Offering the different fundraising opportunities provides something for everyone, Heavener said.
“The people who plunge are different than the people who do the Run with the Cops and a lot of different people do the torch run,” he said. “That is what I kind of like. It is different people coming together.”
For more inforamtion about the Run with a Cop event on Aug. 25, visit https://impact.sowa.org/event/run-with-the-cops-5k-federal-way/e173360.
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