Police wear aprons to support good cause

Members of the Orange Police Department with Chips staff members at the fundraiser.

Members of the Orange Police Department with Chips staff members at the fundraiser.

Tip-A-Cop, a signature Torch Run fundraising event which benefits the Special Olympics, was held in each of the six Chips Family Restaurant locations, including Orange.

The second annual event features local police officers who volunteer for a day, trade their uniforms for an apron and wait tables in an effort to earn high tips. One hundred percent of their tips help to support the Special Olympics Connecticut, their athletes and raise awareness of individuals with intellectual disabilities.

The Special Olympics Connecticut, a nonprofit organization located at 2666 State Street in Hamden, provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports in which children and adults with intellectual disabilities participate, giving them opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and partake in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendships among other Special Olympic athletes and their communities.

“We have six Tip-A-Cop events happening at all of the different Chips Restaurants today and we have officers from each of those local departments helping out and serving, trading in their badges for aprons,” Lauren Young, special events coordinator explained. “All their proceeds are benefiting the Special Olympics and today we have two athletes joining us, Bobby Peterson (basketball athlete) and Shaun Riley (Alpine ski athlete). They participate in different sports throughout the year and it’s so wonderful having our officers volunteer their time and spread awareness of the mission year round.”

The State of Connecticut is home to approximately 14,000 Special Olympic athletes and is currently celebrating 50 years of Special Olympics, founded by Eunice Shriver.

Chips, with locations in Fairfield, Griswoldville, Orange, Trumbull, Southbury and Wethersfield, is committed to “Do good with breakfast” and support local groups, neighboring schools, and nonprofit organizations by hosting fundraisers. “This is our second annual and all of our six locations are participating so it’s very exciting,” said Owner Dina Chatzopoulos Bajko. “The staff has a lot of fun, the customers love it and it’s a great community event. The officers volunteer their time and the customers are extra generous knowing it goes to the Special Olympics. We always like to get involved in the community and we thank the community for their support, we’re very busy!”

Torch Run coordinator and team captain, Lieutenant Heather LaRock said, “We are big proponents of Special Olympics Connecticut at the Orange Police Department, this is an amazing event and Chips has always been a great supporter of Special Olympics Connecticut as well so it’s a perfect partnership. It’s a great time, the wait staff is amazing, our athletes are great and we currently have the Winter Olympic Games going on now so there are athletes all over the State competing as we speak, so what better time. As a police officer in general it’s important to give back to the community simply because you are the community as a police officer and if you can’t be a part of what you are protecting then you’re not going to understand the people that you’re serving and service is what we do.”

“I enjoy giving back to the community and felt it was important to show the public that as a police officer we aren’t only there protecting and serving, but we’re also inside serving other people as well, we are people too,” said Officer Jim Boyles. “It’s for a good cause - all proceeds go to the Special Olympics and giving back to the community I feel is real important.”

“We’re eating delicious pancakes and today’s all about making a difference for people with special needs,” said Peterson. “It’s all about having fun,” added Riley.

Chips Family Restaurant in Orange has been a landmark for many years and Owner George Chatzopoulos explained his philosophy, “We are a family restaurant. Everything is homemade and that’s what makes the difference. We’re here because of the local people. I believe that providing good service, great food and a friendly atmosphere will keep our customers coming back.”

“Every year Chips is so incredibly supportive of the Special Olympics Connecticut and I can’t thank them enough,” added Young.