By Alicia Lacy
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE – Many diners at the Copperas Cove Applebee's received a surprise when their food was delivered Wednesday.
Instead of the wait staff who took their orders delivering their food, a police officer from one of three area law enforcement agencies delivered meals, filled drinks and sang "Happy Birthday" for tips.
Austin Henderson said he had no idea he was going to be served by officers, but thought it was "pretty cool."
The Copperas Cove Police Department Tip-A-Cop event raised funds for the Law Enforcement Torch Run Team that benefits Special Olympics.
Copperas Cove police Cpl. Kevin Keller, who coordinated the event for the fifth year, said tips and shirt sales raised more than $1,850 during the lunch and dinner shifts with 14 law enforcement officers and staff volunteering their time.
Many Cove residents were familiar with the event and made sure to come out and support the police and Special Olympics.
Mayor John Hull and his wife, Shirley, ate their lunch at Applebee's to support the cause.
Janie French said she comes every year. "I like to see them doing nice things and it's great for the kids."
For his 10th year, Lt. Butch Ronne with the Coryell County Sheriff's Office said it's the Special Olympics athletes that keep him motivated to volunteer his time.
"When I mingle and associate with the athletes, it makes it all worth it," he said.
Shannon, 21, and Casey Fitzgerald, 19, both Special Olympics athletes, helped open doors for guests Wednesday night.
They have been participating in the games for three years.
The fundraiser was more personal to two law enforcement officers.
For her second year volunteering at the event, Deputy Lacey McBeth from the Coryell County Sheriff's Office said she likes helping because her 21-year-old sister has cerebral palsy.
Although her sister cannot compete, McBeth said she likes to help other athletes.
Wes Roseberry from the Killeen Police Department worked the event for the first time and is trying to get his 7-year-old foster son approved to compete.
Tip-A-Cop is one way law enforcement has been able to raise funds for the 27,610 children and adults in Texas with disabilities.
In Texas, the Law Enforcement Torch Run began in 1985 and has grown to become one of the largest in the nation. In the last decade, more than $11 million has been contributed to the Special Olympics program in Texas, with all participating law enforcement agencies in the state raising at least $1 million each year.
Cody Meredith, Special Olympics Area 12 representative, said the 11-county area contributes between $20,000 to $25,000 to the fund each year.
Contact Alicia Lacy at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7476.