Officers Go Sky High For Annual Fundraiser

Elizabeth Campbell

The Evanston police chief was “held hostage” for several hours Friday morning at a local Dunkin’ Donuts.

“It’s a great view,” said Chief Frank Kaminski of the Evanston Police Department, as he waved from the roof of the store at 1900 Dempster St.

Kaminski was taking part in the fourth annual “Cop on Top,” a statewide fundraiser for Special Olympics Illinois. Officers took turns standing on the roof from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Customers donated money either to release the officers or to keep them on the roof.

“We are a service organization,” Kaminski said. “Part of service is to engage segments of the community, and Special O is a very important part of this community.”

Kaminski said the department has supported Special Olympics for at least 20 years.

This year’s event raised more than twice the amount of money raised last year, said Officer Heidi Bernhardt, co-chair for the EPD’s Special Olympic events. This is EPD’s third year participating in Evanston’s version of the fundraiser, Bernhardt said.

Last year, the event raised about $1,200, Bernhardt said. The combination of better planning and more publicity contributed to the success of this year’s event, she said.

“It was just that everything went off without a hitch,” Bernhardt said. “It was fun. It was like being at a party.”

B96 radio station, 96.3 FM, was a “huge help,” Bernhardt said. The radio station broadcast live outside Dunkin’ Donuts, Bernhardt said. Radio hosts Eddie and Jobo came from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We are a station that is very well-known,” said Erica Cobb, a B96 morning show co-host. “We use our position to bring light to causes.”

Anyone who made a donation of $20 or more received two tickets to the B96 Summer Bash. Ticket prices typically start at about $25. Any monetary donation earned a coupon for a free donut, said Officer Tanya Noble, co-chair for the EPD’s Special Olympics events.

The Evanston Fire Department also showed support for the event. Station 1 donated a ladder for the officers to get onto the roof.

Captain Art Miller came by to adjust the ladder and show support for the police’s efforts.

“Anything you are doing to have contact with the public outside of an emergency situation is a good thing,” Miller said. “It’s a better opportunity to get to know them.”

All of the officers were volunteering their time.

Officer Tosha Wilson stopped by on her way home from her night shift.

“It’s Special O,” Wilson said. “How do you not support it?”

Evanston resident Terrance Wimberly, 35, said he didn’t know EPD participated in this kind of event.

“A lot of times when people think of the police, something bad happens,” Wimberly said. “But to see them here for something positive and rare. That’s what’s kind of cool about seeing this.”

“Cop on Top” is one of the department’s major events that support Special Olympics, along with the Polar Plunge in January.

The largest fundraiser is the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which about 3,000 police officers run across the state, carrying the torch for Special Olympics from department to department. EPD will pick up the torch from the Wilmette Police Department on June 11, Noble said. The torch will end up in Normal, Ill., for the start of the Special Olympics games.

An entire summer of fundraising events are in the works, Noble said. Police will sell merchandise and hold a raffle. A softball game between the police and fire departments is being planned as well, she said.

But the department has already “far surpassed” the fundraising goal it set at the beginning of the year, which has encouraged them to raise even more, Noble said

“When you do two times better than you did the prior year, it’s an overwhelming feeling,” Noble said. “It just makes it even more exciting.”

Reach Elizabeth Campbell at [email protected]