LAKEWOOD — After missing out on participating in it for the past couple of years, Marysville Police Custody Office Randy Nelson once again got a chance to mingle with the public in support of one of his favorite causes during the annual “Tip-a-Cop” event at the Red Robin restaurant in Lakewood on Saturday, Oct. 13.
“Work and other events got in the way, but I absolutely remember the good times I had doing this before,” Nelson said of the fundraiser for the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which benefits Special Olympics athletes statewide and frequently draws members of the Marysville, Arlington and Lake Stevens police departments to serve customers. “I have to thank the staff of the Lakewood Red Robin for opening their doors to us again. We just try not to be too intrusive.”
Nelson described the “Tip-a-Cop” as an opportunity for law enforcement agents to get to know the public on a more positive level than might be usual for many of their service calls. That Saturday morning, Nelson met with 12-year-old Bailey Brashler of Burlington, who just so happened to be visiting her father Keith in Smokey Point.
“The Red Robin here is one of our favorite dining spots,” said Keith Brashler, who left a “tip” of $20 for Special Olympics. “I actually volunteered for Special Olympics when I was just a little older than her,” he added, pointing to his daughter, “and it was great to see those kids get so excited, even as I tried to draw the line as a referee of the basketball games. They had the best sportsmanship of any athletes.”
Bailey Brashler had never met a police officer before, and found herself giggling at Nelson’s tales of not being able to stop his skates when he was learning at the rink.
“I couldn’t do what these guys do all day long,” Nelson said of the Red Robin servers. “You almost have to have a bat-sense to navigate your way around. I like dealing with people, so long as I don’t have to remember orders,” he laughed.
Patricia Duemmell, an evidence technician with the Marysville Police Department and the coordinator for this year’s Law Enforcement Torch Run, estimated that this year’s event would generate at least $2,000 for Special Olympics.
“The patrons have always been giving, and we hear nothing but positive things about law enforcement,” Duemmell said. “We do a lot with Special Olympics. We’ve done the border-to-base run and the motorcycle and car show to help raise funds, along with selling programs at Seattle Seahawks games. We also hand out medals and water at the games, and we’re always there to cheer on the athletes. It’s a lot of work, but we totally love it.”
Andrew Walrath of Arlington has been a Special Olympian for 20 years, since he was 10 years old, and he joined his mom Janet in handing out special coloring sheets and crayons to the younger attendees of “Tip-a-Cop” this year.
“It’s really helped him socialize and develop friendships,” Janet Walrath said of her son, whose favorite sports to compete in are basketball, soccer and swimming. “Once these kids graduate out of school, they don’t have built-in social groups, because not all of them can drive or hold down jobs. Special Olympics practices and events are a big deal for them.”