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Officers Sling Salsa For Special Olympics

It isn't the 20 trophies that Fairfax resident Matthew Pow has from the Special Olympics that stick in his mind. It's the event motto, which makes the games fun instead of competitive.

"Let me win, and if I don't win, let me be brave in the attempt," was their motto he recited from memory.

Matthew was at the Glory Days in Burke for the "Tip-a-Cop" fund-raising event on Thursday, Dec. 11, with teammate Dan Hartle and mother Laurie Pow. With a plate of chips and salsa in hand, police recruit Vinnita Macri was glad to help out. In the Tip-a-Cop event, a portion of the servers’ and hostess' tips go to the Special Olympics, while the police deliver the chips and salsa as well as bus the tables.

"Last year, we raised $20 million from law enforcement all over. Tonight, we've gotten a lot of questions, not only about Special Olympics, but the force too," Macri said.

Other officers that helped out that evening were Officer Frank Cresswell, Fairfax County Police Department youth services officer; Officer John Lawson from the Mount Vernon station; and Sgt. Dean Jones of the Virginia State Police. Glory Days in Centreville and Burke took part in the fund-raiser that night, which involved officers from police headquarters, operations support, the police academy, criminal investigations, and the Mount Vernon and West Springfield district stations. The Arlington Police Department and the Virginia State Police were at the other Glory Days in Centreville.

"We are very big on giving back to the community," said Tracy Atwell, Glory Days spokesperson for the Northern Virginia region.

The buddy support groups, which also help out in the games, are important for the athletes’ feeling of independence. Hartle sees how important the buddies are.

"Their buddies cheer them on, so parents can step back," he said.

Lake Braddock senior Melanie Rudolph just started as a Glory Days hostess.

"Our tips and tip-share go to Special Olympics," Rudolph said. "I thought it was really nice."

When diners walked in the door and noticed the police, some took a second to figure it out.

"They see Santa and the policemen, and they pretty much know it's a fund-raiser," Rudolph said.

Forty-two law-enforcement agencies in Northern Virginia participated this year. The Fairfax County Police Department collected just over $2,000 according to Cresswell. It takes about $200 to fund each athlete, Cresswell said.

"That just means we can fund 10 athletes this winter," he said. "It takes the burden off the family."