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Police pursue hot menu item: Charity

School resource officer Stacy Eckert delivers drinks to Special Olympics and Tip-A-Cop participants April 12 at Red Robin. - Jacinda Howard/The Mirror
School resource officer Stacy Eckert delivers drinks to Special Olympics and Tip-A-Cop participants April 12 at Red Robin.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard/The Mirror

Federal Way’s police force raised $4,205 for Special Olympics Washington as part of the annual Tip-A-Cop event.

The statewide fundraiser is part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run campaign. All 32 Washington Red Robin restaurants annually host the event. From noon to 8 p.m. April 12, police officers acted as part of the wait staff for the day, supplying fries and drink refills and collecting money to be donated to Special Olympics Washington.

Officers, Marines and Special Olympics athletes all were present during this year’s fundraiser at the Federal Way Red Robin, 2233 S. 320th St.

K9 Unit officer Matt Novak and his German shepherd, Fax, greeted customers outside the bustling restaurant and provided them an opportunity to get a photograph taken with the dog. Det. Doug Deyo performed fake arrests on those eager to experience the feeling of being handcuffed.

“They love it when we put them over the hood of the car,” officer Stacy Eckert said.

With handfuls of shiny gold, silver and bronze medals around their necks, Federal Way residents and Special Olympics athletes Tim Dempsey, 19, Cory Dempsey, 17, and Loren Kodimer, 13, welcomed customers at the door.

“We come out because we want to help our team out,” Kodimer said enthusiatically.

Police officers were scattered inside the restaurant, where they helped the wait staff and explained the fundraiser to Red Robin patrons. Dressed in their Marine attire, Sgt. Daniel Villa of Federal Way and Sgt. Andrew Foote of Tukwila participated by handing out colorful balloons to children.

Customers responded favorably to those involved in the fundraiser, and the Federal Way event garnered $1,605 more than it did in 2007 — and $2,705 more than it did in 2006, Eckert said. The Kaufman family, of Aberdeen, pulled in to eat at Red Robin specifically for the chance to participate in the activities, they said.

The money raised during Tip-A-Cop will go toward year-round Special Olympics training, competitions, equipment, uniforms, meals, medals and transportation, said Mary Do, Law Enforcement Torch Run campaign manager.

“For the last couple of years, we wanted to raise $100,000 (between all 32 Washington Red Robin locations) and last year we finally broke that,” Do said. “Our goal for this year was to really beef it up.”

In Washington, about 8,000 kids, teenagers and adults participate in Special Olympics, Do said. The sporting activities increase their self-confidence and improve their motor and social skills, according to a Special Olympics Washington press release.

“When you first get involved, it’s a warm feeling,” Tim Dempsey said. “You feel welcome.”

Kodimer feels at ease to be around other kids that are like him, he said. He participates in bowling, basketball, soccer and softball, and has earned 23 state and regional medals and one ribbon in his six years with Special Olympics.

The organization provides Cory Dempsey a chance to make new friends, be physically active year-round and earn trophies, medals and ribbons, he said. When Dempsey first became involved with Special Olympics 10 years ago, he was nervous, but now his confidence has increased — and he acts as an assistant coach in some of the sports, he said.

Special Olympics is an opportunity to learn about other teenagers with similar disabilities, Tim Dempsey said. He takes part in bowling, basketball, swimming and softball, and has earned more than 50 medals in his 12 years with Special Olympics.

“To me, it’s one of the best organizations,” Tim Dempsey said. “Nobody doubts you or anything like that.”

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

Check it out:

Those who missed the Tip-A-Cop event still have the opportunity to donate to Special Olympics Washington. Through April 20, Red Robin customers can partake in the Icon promotion at all Washington Red Robin locations. Donors will receive a paper medallion with their name on it, which they may display within the restaurant. One may also visit Officer Stacy Eckert’s Web site at www.firstgiving.com/redrobinfederalway and click “give now” to donate to Special Olympics Washington.

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