The Forest Preserve District's Police Department is ramping up its charity work in 2019 to benefit Special Olympics.
Officers will take part in several fundraisers with the goal of raising even more money than they have in the past several years for Special Olympics Illinois.
“Our goals for 2019 are much greater, as we intend to not only participate in a Special Olympics Plane Pull, but be the organizing agency with leadership from Officer Steve Kirsch and his wife, Chris,” said Police Chief Tracy Chapman.
Chapman, the Kirsches and Nicole Veerman, the department’s court officer, got the ball rolling recently by attending a Law Enforcement Torch Run kickoff event in Bloomington where they learned that Illinois raised $4.6 million for Special Olympics last year.
“This makes Illinois the second leading contributor in the world, falling behind only Florida,” Chapman said.
The Forest Preserve District raised $7,246 in 2018 for the Law Enforcement Torch Run effort, which benefits Special Olympics.
Officer Kirsch joined the Special Olympics effort because his daughter, Rikki, is a Special Olympian. But the charity work also shows another side of police and how they benefit the community, he said. “We’re out there truly trying to help people.”
While Kirsch, fellow Officer Darrell Mayle and their families led the effort, more participants from the police department and other Forest Preserve departments are getting involved, Chapman said.
“The fundraising efforts are contagious, because once you find out about all of the good work being performed by Special Olympics around the world, you can’t help but want to take part or donate,” she said.
First up for the department are two events that will both be held at Leisure Lake in Joliet on March 9: Polar Plunge and 5K Donut Dash.
Other events that the department will tackle this year include: Cop on a Rooftop, Plane Pull, Armored Truck Pull and the Torch Run. Also, Law Enforcement Torch Run booths will be set up at District events to publicize the efforts and help with the fundraising goals.
“Special Olympics Illinois is a not-for-profit organization offering year-round training and competition in 18 sports for more than 23,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities and nearly 20,000 young athletes ages 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities,” according to the agency’s website.
The Illinois group is part of the global Special Olympics movement that provides activities designed to unleash “the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world.”
Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.