Members of the Great Falls Police Department and Cascade County Sheriff's Office came together to support Special Olympics Montana in the annual "Tip-A-Cop" event at MacKenzie River Pizza.
Tip-A-Cop is an official Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) fundraising event. Law enforcement officers and department personnel volunteer their time as "celebrity servers" to collect tips to support Special Olympics Montana. These special tips are in addition to the normal tip you leave for your server.
Aside from the "protect and serve," law enforcement put emphasis on serving.
Cara Guderian of the GFPD Special Victims Unit said, "We protect and serve, that's basically the motto of police work. However, I've never been a server. I don't know how to be a server, so learning that aspect of the job is fun, it's a bit challenging to be honest. It's a whole different world out there, and it's made for some people. It's just really fun to learn that with the athletes."
John Bronec said he also enjoys the comradery with law enforcement personnel.
"It's a lot of fun work, being around the cops," Bronec said. "Of course, they help out with the Special Olympics, so it's a lot of fun. I have a lot of respect for them. It's a real big thing because it helps us out."
Cascade County Sheriff's Office Corporal Brandi Monks stated, "I think it's a good experience, especially supporting a good cause, and they get to see officers on a lighter side and not as serious. We get to kind of goof around a bit and people can see the positive side."
The first Tip-A-Cop with MacKenzie River Pizza was held in 2011 at the Whitefish location. Since then, the event has expanded into Kalispell location, Bozeman, Belgrade, Helena, Great Falls, Butte, Billings, and Missoula. A Tip-A-Cop event is also held at Pizza Hut in Polson.
The pandemic dampened the fundraising revenue over the past couple of years, but the Law Enforcement Torch Run never stopped their efforts to raise funds and increase awareness for the athletes of Special Olympics Montana, while keeping health and safety a priority, LETR is excited to co-host the in-person event with Mackenzie River Pizza once again.
Brittany Roberts of MacKenzie River Pizza in Great Falls said, "the community support has been outstanding. We are number 3 busiest Mackenzie River of all of the Mackenzie Rivers. We have a huge community come in to support this. They seem excited and happy to support us."
In 2021, the Law Enforcement Torch Run raised over $399,000 for Special Olympics Montana and nearly $9 million since inception. This amount is generated through events like the Tip-A-Cop, the Polar Plunges and the Torch Run relay, where officers carry the Flame of Hope to the Special Olympics State Summer Games.
More than $176,000 has been raised through the Tip-A-Cop events since 2011.
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