If you drove past Chick-Fil-A over the weekend and saw an officer on top of the building with a megaphone, don’t be alarmed. They weren’t searching for any fugitives.
They were raising money for the N.C. Special Olympics.
Each year since 1981, police departments around the nation have worked to raise money for Special Olympics throughout the year. In Garner, officers stand on roof-tops for hours with a mega phone, encouraging people to raise money.
It’s called “Cops on Top,” and it is one of the fundraisers officers participate in to raise money for the Special Olympics Torch Run. In May before the Olympic games, officers will run through their communities and pass a torch to a fellow officer to raise awarness for the games.
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Garner Police raised $11,000 last year, which ranked 22nd among all the law enforcement agencies in the state.
Law enforcement agencies together raised $1.2 million.
Garner has been participating in the initiative for three years. This year, the goal for Garner is to raise $20,000.
“Our job is to protect people and our job is to serve people who don’t have a voice,” Officer Kevan Anderson said. “So frequently in life we find that people with intellectual disabilites are overshadowed and they don’t have a voice in society and are overlooked.”
Anderson, a resource officer at East Garner Middle School, said working in a school he has had a chance to interact with students with special needs.
On Saturday, there was face painting with Mimi the clown, a bounce house for kids and fire trucks on display.
“Individuals with special disabilities have always had a special place in my heart,” Anderson said. “To do something where all you do is care about them and show them you’re willing to fight for them and to see the love that they give you in return, it just means a lot.”
All of the proceeds go toward the Special Olympics so children and adults with intellectual disabilities wanting to participate don’t have to pay anything, including travel and uniforms. The N.C. Special Olympics are May 29-31. Nearly 40,000 athletes compete in the event each year.
“It gives our athletes an opportunity to show what their abilities are and they do that through sports,” Keith Fishburne, president of the N.C. Special Olympics, said. “They are able to increase their self-esteem and self confidence.”
Fishburne said through that experience, people with disabilities go on to do great things outside of sports.
“Many of our athletes go on to get jobs in the community and even volunteering in the community and giving back,” he said. “And it allows our community to be a part of our athletes lives. We just consider that a real honor that they respect our athletes the way they do.”