Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cops to help make Special Olympics great

(LA DAILY NEWS) LOS ANGELES - The 750 special-needs kids who will be competing in the upcoming Tri-Valley Region Special Olympics at Birmingham High School already know the importance of those big hearts behind the badges, Jan Maseda says.
They know that without Tip-A-Cop Night on Thursday, there would be no way their families and friends could afford to put on a full-scale competition, complete with aquatic, basketball, tennis and track-and-field events.
No way they'd be marching into the Birmingham High stadium, their faces illuminated with smiles that elate - and break - your heart.
"It cost us $10,000 for the games last year, and $8,000 of that came from law enforcement officers who raised the money serving as waiters and waitresses for Tip-A-Cop Night," said Maseda, director of the San Fernando Valley Region for Special Olympics, Southern California.
"There is no charge to any athlete who wants to compete in Special Olympics. The money all comes from the community, from individuals and groups like these law enforcement officers who open their hearts and give us their time so our kids can win an Olympic medal," Maseda said.
Los Angeles Police Department Reserve Officer David Bush still remembers sitting in the stands a few years ago and watching the Special Olympics opening ceremonies. "It was one of the most moving, beautiful events I'd ever witnessed, and I knew the men and women I serve with would feel the same way," said Bush, who is in charge of the LAPD's 641 reserve officers.
Many of his reserves, along with FBI agents and sworn officers from the LAPD, California Highway Patrol and California State University, Northridge - more than 100 of them - will be working during Tip-A-Cop Night.
They'll be waiting tables, but also spending as much time as possible talking with diners about the importance of Special Olympics.
"We don't take the tips of the regular waiting staff, only any extra tips customers want to give us for the kids," said Bush, a sales engineer when he's not on patrol as a reserve officer.
You may remember one of his reserve LAPD officers who will be there - Bobby Sherman, a TV actor and pop singing sensation back in the 1970s.
"I was fortunate to keep the money I made in show business and manage it well so I could do something in life I really love," said Sherman, who now lives in Van Nuys.
A trained emergency medical technician since 1988, Sherman has been an LAPD reserve officer for 18 years.
"I was not about to sit on my hands and do nothing," Sherman said. "Serving the community and helping great organizations, like Special Olympics, is a heck of a lot more important and fulfilling than being a teen idol."

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