This semester, the Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) is giving back to the community in more ways than usual. The Georgia Special Olympics are coming up in May, and the GTPD is playing a big part in fundraising for the charity.
“We want to embrace the Georgia Tech community in our efforts for this heroic event and welcome and encourage everyone to participate, whether it’s a monetary donation or a volunteer effort to help us raise money for Special Olympics. We are here to give back, as well as to Protect and Serve the members of the Georgia Tech community and we welcome everyone’s participation,” said Regina Rogers, Captain of the GTPD’s Administrative Services Division and the officer organizing fundraising and volunteer activities for the department.
Saturday Feb. 20, Rogers took part in SOGA’s “Freezin’ for a Reason” Polar Plunge at Lake Lanier when the recorded low for the day was 24 degrees.
Over 150 “plungers” from ten police departments and five civilian organizations took part in the event.
Before the day was over, they managed to raise over $40,000 for SOGA.
According to a statement on SOGA’s , “All proceeds collected by ‘plungers’ will benefit the athletes of Special Olympics Georgia.”
Prizes were awarded for the oldest plunger, youngest plunger, best group plunge, and best costume, among others. Rogers herself won an award for the individual to raise the most at the event.
Other events currently in the works include Cops on Donut Shops, an event where police from across the state climb onto participating donut shops and remain for an entire weekend.
“Cops on Donut Shops [has] volunteers, police officers or [civilian] participants, sit on top of a Krispy Kreme Donut shop until money has been raised to get them down. We’re working on participating with the City of Atlanta Police Department to coordinate our efforts. [The] event will be taking place April 30-May 2, 2010,” said Rogers.
GTPD will also be hosting the “Jail ‘n’ Bail.” Volunteers — be they students, faculty or campus dignitaries — will be “arrested” by the GTPD and held until their friends and coworkers have raised enough in donations to pay their “bail.” According to Rogers, the event is currently slated for sometime in May, though a final date has yet to be set.
Aside from fundraising, the GTPD will also be helping with the festivities during the Special Olympics.
The GTPD’s SWAT team will be taking part in the torch relay before the games start, and officers from the department—as well as other departments across the state—will be volunteering during the events.
This year, the games are set to take place on Emory University’s campus from May 21-23.
Students are welcome to get involved in any way they can.
“Prevention Officer Candy Walcott has been meeting with some of the Greek organizations to get them involved, [but] we’re still working on that. We’d like to get them involved in the Car Wash effort as well as the Jail ‘n’ Bail event, whereby they can help us serve ‘warrants’ on campus dignitaries and help them raise their ‘bail’ money to get released,” said Rogers.
, also encourages people interested in helping to sign up as a volunteer.
A statement on their website said, “Special Olympics Georgia…would not be able to carry out its mission of providing sports competitions to those with intellectual disabilities without its volunteers. With only a small staff of full-time employees and over 500 sports competitions throughout the year, it takes a large and dedicated volunteer force in order to make our program a reality.”
Founded in 1970, the Special Olympics Georgia (SOGA) website describes the Special Olympics organization as “the first—and still the only—organization to offer training and competition for people with intellectual disabilities.”
SOGA’s first games were held in 1970 and involved 500 athletes in a set of track and field events. Today, over 22,000 athletes take part in many different events throughout the year and are offered year-round training.
SOGA is largely a volunteer-driven organization, with most of its funds coming from law enforcement organizations across the state or private donors.
A list of other fundraising events and volunteer opportunities can be found online.