‘We’re behind them’: Police raising funds for Special Olympics | The Wake Weekly
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‘We’re behind them’: Police raising funds for Special Olympics

Posted on May 12, 2021

Community SportsTop newsLocal newsSports
Zebulon Officer Dustin Dobson displays one of the Torch Run towels being sold across the state for Special Olympics.

Contributed photo by Dustin Dobson

Zebulon Officer Dustin Dobson displays one of the Torch Run towels being sold across the state for Special Olympics.

Auto Direct in Zebulon supported the Special Olympics Torch Run by purchasing T-shirts for its staff.

Contributed photo by Dustin Dobson

Auto Direct in Zebulon supported the Special Olympics Torch Run by purchasing T-shirts for its staff.

Zebulon Officer Dustin Dobson displays one of the Torch Run towels being sold across the state for Special Olympics.

Contributed photo by Dustin Dobson

Zebulon Officer Dustin Dobson displays one of the Torch Run towels being sold across the state for Special Olympics.

Auto Direct in Zebulon supported the Special Olympics Torch Run by purchasing T-shirts for its staff.

Contributed photo by Dustin Dobson

Auto Direct in Zebulon supported the Special Olympics Torch Run by purchasing T-shirts for its staff.

Auto Direct in Zebulon supported the Special Olympics Torch Run by purchasing T-shirts for its staff.
Zebulon Officer Dustin Dobson displays one of the Torch Run towels being sold across the state for Special Olympics.

arevels@wakeweekly.com

RALEIGH — Local police officers are still raising money for Special Olympics despite the games being canceled this year.

Special Olympics started in the 1960s as a way to help people with disabilities get involved in athletics, according to Knightdale Police Lt. Ginger Keel. Police began raising money in Wichita, Kansas, in the 1970s, she said.

Now more than 2,000 officers across the state support fundraising efforts annually, according to the Special Olympics of North Carolina.

The games aren’t being held this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the officers are still raising money, Keel said.

“The fundraisers are not just about the money,” she said. “They’re about raising awareness. Our people with disabilities are a minority population that aren’t often considered.”

Knightdale had to cancel its most successful fundraiser, the Spring Carnival. Officers partner with Powers Entertainment to bring a few rides and concessions to Knightdale. The ride operators wear Torch Run T-shirts, and the proceeds go to the Special Olympics, Keel said.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser. They give a large donation to the Special Olympics,” she said. “We’re on the fence about maybe doing it in the fall, if COVID restrictions lessen.”

Knightdale Police often partner with Target to sell T-shirts, but they can’t do that this year. The department also couldn’t do a Cop on Top, where officers stand on the Chic-fil-A building and ask for donations.

Keel said one of the hardest parts of canceling the fundraisers was not getting to see the athletes.

“They know we’re there because we want to support them,” she said. “They participate in everything.”

She hopes the department will be able to host more events soon.

Rolesville isn’t holding any fundraising events this year, according to Officer Brian Strickland.

“I hope to do more next year and play a bigger part in the fundraising efforts,” Strickland said. “COVID hit everyone hard this year.”

He said it’s important for officers to raise funds to make the day really special for the athletes and their families.

Mustache May

The Wake Forest Police Department started a new fundraising effort this year called Mustache May.

Twelve officers, including one woman, are trying to grow mustaches throughout May to raise at least $50 each, Cpl. Jeff McArthur said.

“With COVID hitting last year, several fundraising events were canceled,” McArthur said. “Something like this gets more people involved than just one or two officers. Hopefully, we can post some goofy pictures online and people can interact and laugh at us.

“If somebody sees an officer around who looks ridiculous, they can stop and ask if they’re doing that for Special Olympics. Just as important as raising the money is the awareness for Special Olympics.”

Part of the fun is how ridiculous the officers look and competing with each other, according to McArthur.

“If the public can laugh at my mustache for a month and give money to a good cause, that’s pretty good by me,” he said.

McArthur hopes the department can bring back some of its previous fundraising events, such as hosting Polar Plunges and selling coupon books at Dunkin Donuts and Publix.

“All the funds go to support the athletes of the Special Olympics,” McArthur said.

He added that the athletes often join the officers. They enjoy talking to people about Special Olympics and their specific events, he said.

“If you see us in the drive-thru or parking lot, when we can do those again, come by and talk to us,” McArthur said. The athletes “love to talk to people about Special Olympics and everything that’s involved.”

People can go to http://bit.ly/WFPDMustacheMay to see photos and donate to an individual officer.

T-Shirts and towels

Zebulon Police’s new liaisons, Sgt. Jeremy Pulley and K-9 Officer Dustin Dobson, hope to host fundraisers in the future, such as a fashion show or a Cop on Top at Bojangles. However, they’re still learning.

“It’s a new thing for us. We’re still in the learning process,” Pulley said. “We’ve participated in the Torch Run previously, but this year is actually the first year we’ve had a coordinator and liaison and really dove into it and tried to get as much done as we could.”

Currently, Zebulon Police Department is selling T-shirts and towels like several other agencies across the state. The Rolesville Police Department has partnered with Zebulon to sell items.

“We’ve actually done really well so far with just T-shirt sales,” Pulley said.

Dobson added there are many reasons to support Special Olympics, including how motivated the athletes are and helping some of the best athletes in the state.

“For me, it’s about moving everybody forward together,” Dobson said. “We want to show the athletes that we’re behind them.”

Fundraising raises money for the athletes to compete as well as providing them physicals and other health checks they may not receive otherwise.

“As part of our community policing philosophy, we weigh heavily on establishing quality relationships with our community,” said Zebulon Chief Jacqui Boykin. “Special Olympics is a great way for our guys and gals to become better informed and aware of the needs of an important part of our community and lets our citizens see us in a different light.”

To purchase shirts in Zebulon or Rolesville, people can email Dobson at ddobson@townofzebulon.org or Pulley at jpulley@townofzebulon.org.

In Wake Forest, contact McArthur at jmcarthur@wakeforestnc.gov or Robert Wilkinson at rwilkinson@wakeforestnc.gov.

For Knightdale, email Keel at ginger.keel@knightdalenc.gov.

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