Chaska police raise funds for Minnesota Special

The Chaska Police Department participated in the seventh annual Cop on a Rooftop event on May 19.

Special Olympics athletes and select law enforcement officials across Minnesota collected money for the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which benefits Special Olympics Minnesota.

The nonprofit raised more than $36,000 this year, which put it right in its goal range of $30,000-$40,000 for 2023. A total of $2,046.54 of that was raised at the Chaska Dunkin’ Donuts, according to Lou Ann Kelly, executive assistant at the organization.

The past six years of the event raised $90,000 for Special Olympics Minnesota, according to a press release from the organization.

“We appreciate all of our law enforcement officers and our athletes who are here today and helping out,” Kelly said. “It really changes their lives to be involved with Special Olympics.”

Each guest who visited the Dunkin’ Donuts in Chaska from 6–11 a.m. and made a donation received a coupon for a free donut. Those who donated $10 or more received a coupon for a free medium coffee.

“There’s no access to get up on the roof at this location … the cop on the roof thing is optional,” Kelly said. “Some stores don’t want the liability of officers on the roof. Some don’t have easy access. And I actually think officers enjoy being on the ground where they can interact with the community more.”

Chaska Police officers were in and out throughout the fundraiser, but Officer Julie Janke was there from start to finish. Kelly said that while it was a slower fundraiser than in previous years due to the Downtown Highway 41 Construction Project, it was still a successful day.

Several Special Olympics athletes were at the Chaska Dunkin’ Donuts to help raise funds, including former track athlete Megan Brueggemeier, of Waconia. She’s now on a bowling team with Alicia Deraad, of Victoria, who also helped raise funds at Cop on a Rooftop.

“It’s fun. It’s a lot of fun,” Deraad said. “It gets me to meet a lot of different people, a lot of friends, especially Megan.”

Mark Ewald, father to swimmer and bocce player Josh Ewald, noted how important Special Olympics has been for building community. He has found that “you don’t have a lot of friends when you have special needs. People are really nice, but their kids don’t play with your kids.”

Minnesota offers 16 official sports for its Special Olympics, including alpine skiing, basketball, bocce ball, bowling, equestrian, flag football, golf, gymnastics, poly hockey, powerlifting, snowboarding, snowshoeing, softball, swimming, tennis and track and field.

“You get to interact with other people and make sure that you’re not alone in the world,” said athlete Ryan van Arsdale.

Special Olympics Minnesota is currently gearing up for the Summer Games at the end of June, which includes track and field, basketball and swimming.

“It’s really all about inclusion. We’re trying to build a better world,” Kelly said.

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