Evanston Police Officer Heidi Bernhardt and School Resource Officer Grace Carmichael have been involved with and supporting Evanston Special Olympics athletes for “a billion years,” Bernhardt said.
And they proved that dedication last Friday morning, August 19, when they participated in the annual Cop on Top fundraiser, renamed this year Cop on a Rooftop, raising $2,300, perhaps their best effort yet. day.
Aided by several Special Olympics athletes and the lure of a free donut for all who contributed, countless patrons of Dunkin’ Donuts, 1900 Dempster St., have responded generously, mostly in cash, but sometimes with a donation by credit card.
Dunkin’ Donuts, led by store manager Sandra Malka, provided free donut coupons, coffee and donuts to athletes and a generous financial donation to Cop on a Rooftop.
Athletes, many of whom won medals at the 2022 Special Olympics U.S. Games in Orlando, Florida, last June, proudly wore their medals and shared their stories as customers waited to place and collect their orders.
Bernhardt said the athletes were the perfect people to tell people about the Special Olympics program and the sports they participate in throughout the year – plus they were phenomenal fundraisers.
It was a successful fundraiser for local programs and also “a great day and a great event” as officers spoke with the public, networked with colleagues and enjoyed the community. Bernhardt said Evanston Police Department personnel of all ranks and departments pulled over, including Chief Richard Eddington and members of the Evanston Fire Department.
Telecom dispatcher Jesse McPhail left his shift at 7 a.m. and went to help before returning home. Leonard Woodson, Special Recreation Program Manager for the Evanston Parks and Recreation Department, as well as a coach and mentor to many athletes, also stopped by to show his support and grab a cup of coffee.
Special Olympics Illinois also sold t-shirts and hats along with $10 raffle tickets – part of a North Coast-wide fundraiser sponsored by multiple law enforcement agencies . Prizes this year include a 2022 Coleman motorhome and a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Contact Burnhardt for more information. Sales end September 30 and the draw is October 14.
Bernhardt has been an officer with EPD for 22 years, including 19 years with Special Olympics. She said she knows many of the athletes personally: “I’m grateful that we have the relationships we have with the athletes. I feel blessed. I fell into this position, but there is nowhere I would rather be.