WORTHINGTON -- Long before her shift begins atop Worthington's Hy-Vee Food Store on July 2, Worthington Police Officer Jacki Bomgaars will have already logged many hours toward the third annual Cop on Top fundraiser for Special Olympics Minnesota.
Bomgaars coordinates what has now become an annual event --soliciting donations, organizing the logistics and cajoling her fellow police officers into contributing their time. But Bomgaars stresses that Cop on Top is truly a law enforcement team and community effort to raise money for Special Olympics, which provides opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to participate in individual and team sports.
"The participation we get from the community speaks volumes about its willingness to donate time, money and effort to a great cause," Bomgaars said. "I think part of it is just their graciousness. But then part of it is that everyone has someone in their family or knows someone with a disability who has taken part in Special Olympics, so it hits close to home."
Cop on Top is a Law Enforcement Torch Run event during which law enforcement personnel take four-hour shifts sitting on top of a building in a marathon effort to raise money. But many of the officers don't just sit. Some, such as Bomgaars, use a bullhorn to attract the attention of people going into the grocery store and aren't above using persuasive tactics to elicit a donation.
The heckling is what makes the event so much fun, according to Bomgaars.
"It's the one time cops can get away with giving people a bad time," she said. "It's for a good cause."
Donations of any size are welcomed and can be dropped in a large fish tank that will be set up in front of Hy-Vee. But for every $20 donation to Special Olympics, the donor will receive a Special Olympics T-shirt and also have his or her name put into a drawing for prizes. Up for grabs this year are at $100 gift card donated by Hy-Vee; a $100 Hy-Vee gas card donated by the Daily Globe; a family pack of ride wristbands for the Mall of America and the Minnesota Zoo donated by Radio Works; and a sterling silver opal ring donated by Palace Jewelers.
Bomgaars will continue to accept prize donations through Friday. Additionally, some businesses choose to donate a portion of their sales during a specified time period during the event.
"We welcome all those donations as well," said Bomgaars. "They just need to contact me so I know who's doing it."
Besides the spectacle of a police officer sitting on top of the building, Cop on Top will have some other attractions. Support staff from the Law Enforcement Center will be on hand to accept donations, talk with people and grill up burgers. A burger meal with chips and soda can be purchased, with half the price donated to Special Olympics, from 5 to 7 p.m. July 2 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 3.
"We'd love to have people come out and feed their whole family off the grill," Bomgaars said.
The goal for last year's Cop on Top was $7,500, and when all the donations were tallied, the event raised $9,300. Bomgaars is keeping the goal at $7,500 --but hopes to once again smash that expectation.
"We know we can raise at least $9,000, but $10 grand would be really nice to see," she said.
Cop on Top will officially get underway at 6 p.m. July 2 and end at 6 p.m. July 3. For more information on the fundraiser or to make a donation, contact Bomgaars at firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 295-5400. Check donations can be made out to Special Olympics Minnesota and mailed to the Worthington Police Department, to the attention of Officer Jacki Bomgaars.