Federal Way cops raise cash for Special Olympics

Federal Way Police Explorer Heidy Wells serves food to patrons Saturday during the Red Robin Tip-A-Cop fundraiser in support of Special Olympics Washington.  - Jacinda Howard/The Mirror
Federal Way Police Explorer Heidy Wells serves food to patrons Saturday during the Red Robin Tip-A-Cop fundraiser in support of Special Olympics Washington.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard/The Mirror

Police officers carefully balanced stacks of onion rings and trays of french fries and burgers Saturday while acting as Red Robin wait staff for the annual Tip-A-Cop event.

Federal Way’s Red Robin was one of several locations in the Puget Sound region that invited local cops to raise money for Special Olympics Washington. A few squad cars, Valley SWAT and a K-9 team were stationed out front. Inside, Special Olympic athletes and Federal Way Police Explorers greeted visitors while officers and Explorers served patrons.

Tip-A-Cop is part of the larger Law Enforcement Torch Run Campaign. Law enforcement personnel who participated did so on their own time. All the tips they collected were donated to Special Olympics Washington.

This is the 10th year the Federal Way Red Robin has participated in the fundraiser, manager Aaron Peterson said. The event suits the restaurant chain’s mission to perform unbridled acts — random acts of kindness bestowed on guests and team members, Peterson said. Though many guests Saturday did not know about the event before arriving at Red Robin, Peterson said that frequent customers were well aware of the restaurant’s dedication to Special Olympics.

“A lot of our loyal patrons that come in, they know this is something we do every year,” he said.

For Tim Dempsey, the event is quite familiar. Dempsey, 22, is a Special Olympics Washington athlete from Federal Way. He’s been involved in Special Olympics since age 8. He swims, bowls and plays basketball. His skills have earned him several medals, which he proudly displayed around his neck at the Tip-A-Cop event. Dempsey said he’s been volunteering at the Red Robin fundraiser for seven years.

Special Olympics Washington was founded as a non-profit in 1975 and serves the intellectually disabled. Kids, teens and adults are all welcome to participate in year-round sports training and competitions, according to the Special Olympics Washington website,

Dempsey said he’s aware of a 79-year-old man who plays Special Olympics Washington basketball. Though the organization was founded to cater to disabled people, Special Olympics can be valuable to the non-disabled. The organization welcomes athletes, coaches and volunteers of all kinds.

“It’s accepting for all, not just the disabled,” Dempsey said.

Special Olympics Washington aspired to raise more than $150,000 during the Tip-A-Cop event. Federal Way officers were able to raise $3,700 this year and donations were still coming in as of Monday.

Last year they raised $1,843, and 2009 brought in $3,861. In 2008, the department collected $4,205 for Special Olympics. In 2007, it raised $2,600, and 2006 efforts garnered $1,500.

Learn more

To volunteer with Special Olympics Washington or learn more about the organization, visit



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