CANNON BEACH — For one night only, people at Mo’s Restaurant got their cup of chowder served by the police officers of Seaside and Cannon Beach.
Police officers shadowed the servers of the seafood restaurant Thursday evening for the second annual Tip-a-Cop, an event that raises money for local and regional Special Olympics programs.
Special Olympians from Clatsop County also worked beside the police officers, acting as hosts and greeters. After getting drinks and taking orders, part of the job for the officer was to ask for extra tips to support the program.
The fundraiser started in the county two years ago after Cannon Beach Police Chief Jason Schermerhorn talked with a representative from the Special Olympics at a police chief’s conference. A phone call and two emails later, Mo’s Restaurant was on board and officers had Mo’s hats on their heads and cups of clam chowder in their hands.
“Doing this is just another way to be involved in the community,” Schermerhorn said. “It brings light to the Special Olympics. Sometimes I think people here don’t know we have athletes here, and it’s nice to highlight their stories.”
Special Olympics Oregon provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children, youth and adults living with intellectual disabilities, said Adam Kau, the director of programs at Special Olympics Oregon.
Kau said the statewide fundraiser has already raised $90,000 so far, with more expected to come in.
“The contribution is enormous. All the proceeds pay for the buses the athletes can take to competitions, uniforms, programs and the overall athlete experience,” Kau said.
There are about 100 Special Olympians in Clatsop County. Steve McAloney, who was at the event as support while his son greeted people at the front, said they became involved a few years back. He started as a parent who would drop off his son at basketball practice. Eventually, he became passionate enough to become the regional coordinator for the county.
“For most of these athletes, the chance of competing on a high school sports team is slim,” McAloney said. “It keeps these kids physically fit, sure, but also they make so many friends through this. And so many are gifted athletes — you just have to give them the right environment. These kids are some of the hardest workers you could ask for.”
To show how hard she worked, Selah Bryce wore all of her medals around her neck as she walked patrons to their tables.
“I do aquatics and track. I’ve won a lot,” she said with a smile.