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Knightdale cop on rooftop gives Special Olympics a boost

Posted on September 13, 2021

Local news
Volunteer Tammy Richards accepts a donation at the Knightdale Chick-fil-A on Sept. 3.

Shawn Taylor | Restoration NewsMedia

Volunteer Tammy Richards accepts a donation at the Knightdale Chick-fil-A on Sept. 3.

Knightdale Police Lt. Ginger Keel raised around $2,500 from the roof of Chick-fil-A.

Shawn Taylor | Restoration NewsMedia

Knightdale Police Lt. Ginger Keel raised around $2,500 from the roof of Chick-fil-A.

Knightdale Police Lt. Ginger Keel requests donations for Special Olympics North Carolina from atop the Chick-fil-A on Knightdale Boulevard.

Shawn Taylor | Restoration NewsMedia

Knightdale Police Lt. Ginger Keel requests donations for Special Olympics North Carolina from atop the Chick-fil-A on Knightdale Boulevard.

Volunteer Tammy Richards accepts a donation at the Knightdale Chick-fil-A on Sept. 3.

Shawn Taylor | Restoration NewsMedia

Volunteer Tammy Richards accepts a donation at the Knightdale Chick-fil-A on Sept. 3.

Knightdale Police Lt. Ginger Keel raised around $2,500 from the roof of Chick-fil-A.

Shawn Taylor | Restoration NewsMedia

Knightdale Police Lt. Ginger Keel raised around $2,500 from the roof of Chick-fil-A.

Knightdale Police Lt. Ginger Keel raised around $2,500 from the roof of Chick-fil-A.
Knightdale Police Lt. Ginger Keel requests donations for Special Olympics North Carolina from atop the Chick-fil-A on Knightdale Boulevard.
Volunteer Tammy Richards accepts a donation at the Knightdale Chick-fil-A on Sept. 3.

KNIGHTDALE — A police officer stood atop a fast-food restaurant for several hours in the punishing sun to raise money and awareness for athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Lt. Ginger Keel of the Knightdale Police Department raised around $2,500 for Special Olympics North Carolina by standing on the roof of a Chick-fil-A on Sept. 3.

Keel was being “ransomed” as part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which supports Special Olympics. She serves on the state council for fundraising and awareness. She also organizes all of Knightdale Police’s fundraisers for the cause.

“Being the organizer, I thought, ‘Well, I might as well be the one on the roof,’” Keel said. “The idea is that I can’t come down until we raise the money.”

Every penny donated to getting Keel off the roof goes directly to Special Olympics North Carolina. The organization doesn’t just put on the athletic competitions at no cost to the athletes. It also helps with athletes’ overall wellness. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it hosted virtual training to keep the athletes motivated and socially connected, Keel said.

“Being able to be involved in the athletic program is really critically important to their well-being,” she added. “We have athletes that have come to Special Olympics nonverbal and have now graduated from college. It’s a big help in their development and in them continuing to be contributing members of their community.”

In addition to raising money, Cops on Top also raises awareness.

“They are a minority community,” Keel said. “Not a lot of people are aware of what goes on with Special Olympics athletes, so that’s a big part of it as well.”

The program fields more than 40,000 athletes from across the state, including several from Wake County.

If people donated $20, they could choose between a hat, a shirt or a beach towel with the organization’s logo. They help raise awareness by using those items as they go around town, Keel said.

Despite the heat, Keel said Chick-fil-A took good care of her.

“They’re a wonderful community partner for the police department in anything we’ve ever asked them to do with us,” she said. “As long as we want to be here, they’re happy to have us. ... It’s a great setup for something like this because they stay busy all day long.”

Chick-fil-A also participates in community giveaways, food drives and gift drives, Keel said.

“I would encourage people to be aware of what Special Olympics does, and anyone in their community who has intellectual disabilities make sure they’re involved in Special Olympics,” Keel said. “Most of them are — Special Olympics does great outreach — but I hate to see anybody who’s not involved in it who should be.”

For more information on Special Olympics North Carolina, including how to become a volunteer or donate, visit www.sonc.net.

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