By Victor O'Brien

Killeen Daily Herald

Killeen police officer Chris Polidoro's 4-year-old nephew has Down syndrome, but Polidoro says it's hard to tell by the smile on his face.

Polidoro said his nephew is just like other special-needs children.

"They are probably some of the nicest, warmest and most loving kids you'll ever meet," Polidoro said. "They always seem to have a smile for you."

Polidoro was one of 14 law enforcement officers from the Killeen and Harker Heights police departments and the Coryell County Sheriff's Office to wait tables Tuesday at Red Lobster on Central Texas Expressway in Killeen.

Officers refilled drinks, served bread and bused tables to earn tips to benefit the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

The "Cops and Lobsters" event is an effort by Special Olympics, Red Lobster and law enforcement personnel to raise money for Special Olympics.

The Texas Law Enforcement Torch Run has raised more than $11 million to cover competition costs and new equipment for the athletes and Special Olympics Texas in the last decade, Special Olympics Texas Area 12 Director Cody Meredith said.

The Tip-A-Cop events, including Tuesday's "Cops and Lobsters," are opportunities for officers to interact with residents in unique ways and to give even more to the community.

Sgt. Pat Turck of KPD delivered soda and biscuits to Sabrina Heaton, who said she was even more impressed by his professionalism than his courteous service.

"People get to see police being different and being a little goofy, pretending to do things we don't really know how to do," said Turck, who served in his SWAT uniform.

Special Olympics Texas makes athletic competition possible for 24,643 adults and children with intellectual disabilities, according to a KPD news release.

While the officers are role models to the athletes, the athletes are just as inspirational.

"It's what makes my heart beat," said area torch run director Sgt. Sandra Hunt of KPD. "When you're having a bad day, all you need to do is watch these children and the determination they put forth."

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