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Tip-A-Cop fundraiser orders a refill for Special Olympics Washington
Federal Way police donned aprons and balanced serving trays April 18 in support of Special Olympics Washington.
Across the state in each of the 35 Red Robin restaurant locations, police raised money for athletes with disabilities through the Tip-A-Cop fundraiser. This was the fifth year the event took place.
"(Tip-A-Cop) is doing great," said Mary Do, Special Olympics Washington development manager. "Every year they are doing a little bit better."
The event has grown since its induction. Federal Way's police and volunteers raised $3,861 this year. Last year, they collected $4,205 for Special Olympics Washington. In 2007, they raised $2,600 and in 2006, efforts garnered $1,500. It was amazing to take in nearly as much funds this year, in a down economy, compared to last year, officer Stacy Eckert said.
Annually, the event's main draw are police officers who step in as waiters and waitresses. They fill drinks, collect tips and greet guests. But some police forces take the function a bit further.
"We tell them to make it their own, make it fun," Do said. "Federal Way is one of the locations that goes above and beyond."
Another Tip-A-Cop attention grabber and fundraising effort in Federal Way routinely centers on the squad's police cars and handcuffs. Red Robin visitors who wish to do so can exchange donations for a few minutes in shiny metal handcuffs.
This year, Federal Way also sent cops to the Des Moines Red Robin to assist that department in its fundraising, Do said. They plan to do the same next year, Eckert said. The officers are volunteers. Many of them work their regularly scheduled shifts before or after the event.
"We've got so many volunteers who are willing to do this after a 12-hour shift already," Do said.
Tip-A-Cop's success is due to the many volunteers who turned out Saturday, Eckert said. The athletes and their families were also in attendance.
"They were troopers," Eckert said. "To me, that made the difference."
Special Olympics Washington aspired to raise $150,000 during the 2009 Tip-A-Cop function. The total earned is still being calculated. Typically, each participating Washington police force raises between $2,000 and $3,000, Do said.
All donations gathered go to support the state's Special Olympics athletes of all ages. The money provides year-round sports training and competitions to Special Olympics athletes in a range of sports — from bowling to baseball.
Tip-A-Cop is part of the larger Law Enforcement Torch Run, a Special Olympics fundraiser and public awareness event. To volunteer with Special Olympics Washington or learn more about the organization, visit www.sowa.org. Volunteer opportunities at Fort Lewis and McChord military bases, as well as the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatics Center, are available May 30-31.