Porter County Sheriff's Department

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Tip a Cop for Special Olympics

Cops at your service

August 11, 2006

By Amy Lavalley/Post-Tribune correspondent

VALPARAISO — Jason Ferguson, a patrol officer with the Porter County Sheriff’s Department, admitted his wife gave him a few pointers on how to wait tables.

The closest he’d ever come was working behind the counter at a fast-food restaurant in high school.

He and the seven other members of the department were helping out at Kelsey’s Steakhouse on Thursday evening by donating tips to the Special Olympics of Porter County.

None of the officers handled heavy trays of food.

“We’d probably all drop them,” he said.

This is the first time Tip a Cop, as the program is called, was used in the region to benefit the Special Olympics of Porter County, though it has raised money in other parts of the state, said David Lain, chief of police and one of the fund-raiser’s organizers.

Lain’s friend is state coordinator for the Special Olympics and Lain heard about the group through him. Kelsey’s was a natural site to support the fund-raiser because of its support of Opportunity Enterprises and its history of support for the Special Olympics.

“This is obviously one of the most popular places in Valparaiso,” Lain said, looking around the restaurant, which had just about reached its 300-diner capacity.

He didn’t know how much money the event might raise, and just wanted both diners and officers to have a good time.

The officers were there to provide “whatever the staff needs, with the understanding we’re probably going to spill something on someone before the night is over,” Lain said.

More than 550 athletes participate in sports year-round through the program, said Lorrie Woycik, coordinator for the Special Olympics of Porter County and outreach director for the region.

The organization relies solely on donations, Woycik said, adding that regardless of how much money the event raised it would increase community awareness about the Special Olympics.

Ken Blaney, who owns the restaurant with his father, Ken Blaney Sr., said Lain approached him about hosting Tip a Cop. The family thought it would be a good way to further support Special Olympics, especially since the restaurant is the site of an annual banquet for Porter County athletes.

They were all mindful of the fact that the officers might not be experienced waiters.

“We didn’t want to inconvenience the customers in any way,” Blaney said, adding the deputies were assisting the wait staff. “We thought it would be smoother if we kept it simple.”


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