Outside the Dunkin Donuts on U.S. 6 Friday morning, Morris Patrol Officer Derek Zumbahlen stopped a car.
Well, OK, the car stopped on its own.
Zumbahlen had set up shop at the end of the drive-through to solicit donations during this year’s Cop on a Rooftop event to benefit the Special Olympics in Illinois.
It was in the middle of the morning commute, but most in the busy line of drive-through customers stopped to donate. Any donation earned them a free doughnut, while a donation of $10 bought them a travel mug.
“People have been very generous,” Zumbahlen said. “Pretty much everybody has been stopping.”
“It’s kind of hard not to stop when you’ve got two police officers standing there,” Zumbahlen joked. “We’re strategically placed.”
The event, now in its 11th year, takes place across the state, with hundreds of officers “staking out” Dunkin Donuts locations — some of them standing on the roofs of the buildings to better generate customers.
The money raised goes to the Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit the Special Olympics of Illinois. Last year, in the Morris Police Department’s first year participating, it raised $1,300.
“It’s raising money for a great cause,” said Patrol Officer Paul Cheskie, who was also staking out the Morris location. “There’s a lot of pride in this.”
The officers were out in front of the store from 5 a.m. until 2 p.m. In that time, they perfected their sales pitch.
To one customer, Zumbahlen said all donations receive a free doughnut and a $10 donation receives a “fancy new travel mug.”
When the customer handed him a $10 bill, Zumbahlen said: “Was it the word ‘fancy’ that got you?”
“After doing it a while, you get the hang of it,” Zumbahlen said.
Two customers, Kristine Furmanek and Paul Page, stopped by to donate.
“When you see the police handing out goodies, you’ve got to check it out,” Furmanek said.
Page said he knew people who participated in the Special Olympics, and both said it was an important cause to support.
“We try to help out as much as we can,” Furmanek said.
In Minooka, police staked out two Dunkin Donuts locations.
At one of them, Minooka Police Chief Justin Meyer stood on the roof, yelling down to customers: “Get me down from here!”
“You’ve got to bellow,” Meyer said of his sales tactics.
At that location, they had raised about $2,000 by late morning, according to Meyer.
“That just shows the support we get from the community,” Meyer said. “It seems like more and more people come out every year.”
The Minooka Police Department has participated for the last six years. On Friday, members of the department sold T-shirts, pins, hats and mugs in addition to the free doughnut coupons and the travel mugs.
“It’s for the Special Olympics. It’s a great cause,” said Beth Black, records manager for the Minooka Police Department.
“We’re all happy to be here,” added Patrol Officer Ryan MacDonald, who was staking out the drive-through. “It’s an important day.”
Special Olympics Illinois, first held in 1968, offers training and competition in 19 sports for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
The Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run has raised close to $28 million over 27 years for Special Olympics Illinois and is the largest fundraising event for the non-profit organization, according to a press release.
For Morris Police Chief Brent Dite, it’s an important cause to support.
“It’s just such a positive impact for so many people,” Dite said.
According to Dite, the drive-through had been busy all day and they had received an outpouring of support. In Ottawa, Dite said, Illinois State Police received so many donations they were running out of mugs.
“Everyone is excited to help,” Dite said. “It’s been amazing to see how generous people are. It’s just awesome.”