By Tammye McDuff
Law Enforcement gave a whole new meaning to “protect and serve” at the annual Tip-A-Cop fundraiser last month. Officers served as celebrity waiters at Johnny Carino’s Restaurant donated all tips they received to Special Olympics. Tip-A-Cop has been a favorite way for officers to raise money, and the public loved having officers cater to their orders.
Tip-A-Cop events are one of the main fundraisers for the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which is one of the largest fundraising arms of Special Olympics. More than 3,000 law enforcement officers throughout Southern California work a whole “new beat” with Special Olympics Southern California. Officers go above and beyond the call of duty as they participate in the Law enforcement Torch Run, a grass roots fundraiser and public awareness event to raise interest and enthusiasm for the Special Olympic Games.
In 1981, Chief Richard LaMunyon of the Wichita, Kansas Police Department created the Law Enforcement Torch Run as a way to involve his officers in the community by running with a torch relay for their local Special Olympics. The first Torch Run involved six officers and they raised very little money.
The Torch Run has grown to include more than 125 run events in 48 nations. Since its inception 33 years ago, more than 100,000 law enforcement officers have raised over $500 million for the Special Olympics movement worldwide. The Torch Run has become the largest grassroots fundraiser for Special Olympics.
The 2013 Southern California Law Enforcement Torch Run involved more than 450 officers who proudly carried the Special Olympics Torch more than 1,500 miles, through more than 175 communities. The officers, representing law enforcement agencies throughout the state, collected donations for their participation and are sponsored by civic groups, local businesses and generous friends.
More than 3,000 officers raised more than $1.4 million in 2014 through Tip-A-Cop dinners, Plane/Fire Truck Pulls, 5K/10K runs, Raffles, Car Shows, Bike Rides, Polar Plunges, Adopt-a-Cop programs, golf tournaments and other special events. Officers volunteer their time to support their local athletes. Because of our volunteer base, all funds raised by law enforcement personnel go to Special Olympics.
Chaplin Mario Guerra stated,” thanks to all the Downey PD for their work. This year it has a special meaning to Downey, as we will serve as a Host City for the World Games. I got to work with two young officers that I have known since they were kids, local residents that now serve their hometown. By the way, my respect goes out to all waiters and waitresses. This is hard work!”