LAKEWOOD — The Red Robin Restaurant in Lakewood was again bustling with uniforms, as law enforcement agents and other personnel from the Marysville and Arlington police departments joined members of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office in collecting $385.95 for Special Olympics at the annual Tip-A-Cop event on Saturday, Oct. 12.
“I’ve always wanted to do this, since I live up in this neck of the woods,” said Operations Bureau Chief Rachelle Heinzen, of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, who calls Camano Island home.
Although they hadn’t expected to be served by a member of the Sheriff’s Office during their meal, Arlington’s Sherry Dahlquist and her daughter Julia barely batted an eye at Heinzen’s uniform, even as she sidled up to their booth in the Red Robin to talk to them about donating to Special Olympics.
“I live next to a Sheriff’s Deputy, so I’m kind of used to it,” Sherry Dahlquist laughed.
In the midst of celebrating their granddaughter’s birthday at the restaurant that day, Whidbey Island’s Carol and Lloyd Martinez slipped a few dollars to Marysville Police Department programs specialist Andrea Hill.
“Law enforcement’s partnership with Red Robin has earned more than $2 million for Special Olympics programs across the country since it began eight years ago,” said Patricia Duemmell, an evidence technician for the Marysville Police Department. “All Special Olympics athletes in Washington state are able to compete for free. It costs $650 to support one athlete for a full year of competition.”
Duemmell explained that Tip-A-Cop is part of the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run campaign, which includes an international series of relay runs. The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the largest fundraiser and public awareness campaign for Special Olympics, and the funds that it raises go directly to local programs, in the states or countries where those funds are generated.
In Washington state, more than 2,000 individuals — including chiefs, sheriffs, officers, troopers, deputies and other law enforcement personnel — participate in the Law Enforcement Torch Run campaign.
“Special Olympics Washington provides year-round sport training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities,” Duemmell said. “By participating in sports, Special Olympics Washington athletes increase their self-confidence and social skills, and improve in physical and motor skills, to have better success in leading more independent lives.”
Duemmell sent “a big thank-you” to the staff and patrons of the Lakewood Red Robin for “being super-fans” through their contributions to Special Olympics Washington.