Gaithersburg's finest waited on patrons of at Lakeforest Mall on March 26 to raise more than $1,500 for Special Olympics Maryland.
The second annual Tip-a-Cop event saw police officers at Red Robins all over Maryland. Officers took orders for non-alcoholic drinks to promote donations in support of the Special Olympics.
According to Public Information Officer Dan Lane Jr., Maryland is a leader in raising money for the Special Olympics. Last year, Maryland police raised $4.1 million, the most of any state in the country. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of the Special Olympics, lived in Potomac when she founded the games.
"We're happy for that, and we're hoping to keep it like that," Lane said of Maryland's leadership.
Lane said the Lakeforest location raised $1,563. Across Maryland's 10 Red Robin locations, patrons donated about $25,000, according to Special Olympics Maryland.
The Special Olympics relies heavily on donations to fund its events across the country. Special Olympics Maryland track and field athlete Joe Wu said the Tip-a-Cop event was "very important to Special Olympics" and that the games were an important part of his life.
Jackie Sewell, manager of the on Clopper Road, was volunteering Saturday. Bowl America hosts Special Olympics practices on Saturdays.
"A lot of these guys, Saturday at 12:00 is what they live their week for. They know at 12:00 on Saturday, they're going bowling, and that is their event for the weekend," Sewell said. "If something else is going on and they can't bowl, you wouldn't believe how disappointed they are."
"Red Robin tries to do a lot of community outreach and we always try to sponsor events that have to do with kids, so Special Olympics seemed like a very good fit," Lakeforest Red Robin general manager Gigi Obando said.
Maryland holds a variety of other events in support of the Special Olympics, including the Maryland Law Enforcement Torch Run and the Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge, in which police officers and other donators, including Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, take a "quick dip" in the Chesapeake Bay – in the dead of winter. This year's plunge raised an estimated $3 million alone.
Gaithersburg police also took the opportunity to promote the Explorer program, in which teens interested in the field of law enforcement meet with police at a training academy to learn all of the aspects of the job.