Unlike the Special Olympians who train for their sport, Huntley cops don’t need a warm up or practice run for Tip a Cop at Culver’s of Huntley.
“The only thing you need to train for this event is make sure you know how to smile and say `thank you,” Huntley Sgt. Amy Williams said. “You also have to have knowledge of Special Olympics and what it is all about.”
Tip a Cop is one of three annual fundraisers Huntley police hold for area athletes to participate in Special Olympics Illinois. The nonprofit provides year-round sports training and competition in 19 sports for about 21,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities and more than 6,000 young athletes ages 2 to 7 with and without intellectual disabilities, according to its website.
Huntley police also participate in Cop on Top, held in June, and a car show organized by Tom Peck Ford, also held in June.
Tip a Cop is in its ninth year and started with Williams and Culver’s manager Terri Agate brainstorming ways to raise money for Special Olympics. The idea is to have officers and other volunteers to act as waiters and receive donations for Special Olympics.
This year’s event is from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 21 at Culver’s, 13240 Route 4. Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run merchandise (hat, shirts and pins) will also be available for purchase.
Special Olympic athletes will also be on hand helping police officers and customers, Williams said. The athletes “enjoy it and like to interact with the officers. We have alumni and we have the same volunteers coming back and they (athletes) bond with them” too, she said.
Huntley police raise money for the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which benefits Special Olympics. Last year, the Law Enforcement Torch Run raised $2.9 million and this year, Torch Run has raised $2.975 million, Williams said. The money is used for programming that allows athletes to participate in the games, she said.
“We raise as much as we can,” Williams said.
Williams has been down to the summer games for the last eight or nine years. There, she helps coordinate athletes’ schedules and cheer them on in their sport. She also helps pass out the medals.
The local athletes perform well, she said. James Williams and Nick Grandenitti were a few of those athletes who earned awards. Grandenitti earned a silver medal for soccer and Williams earned a gold medal for the 100M breaststroke and the 4X100M Freestyle Relay as well as a bronze medal for the 100M Freestyle, she said.
These athletes should be an inspiration to others, she said.
"I would have to say that to me the Torch Run means hope," Williams said. "The athletes show us that we can work though any challenges we face with dignity and pride. It reminds us to be proud of ourselves and all we have accomplished."
She added, Special Olympics "serves as a reminder that just one person can make a difference in the lives of the athletes and how one athlete can make a difference not only in my life but in the world."