The Waterloo Police Department is continuing its tradition of raising money for Special Olympics Illinois this month by participating in a Virtual Row 4 Dough benefit.
On Friday, 10 Waterloo officers will use a rowing machine to row a combined 26.2 miles and another individual officer will row 3.1 miles in an effort to raise funds and awareness for the charity.
“We just thought this would be a great event for us to get together and do as a team,” WPD officer Shaun Wiegand said.
The rowing fundraiser is the latest the department has participated in.
The WPD has been partnered with the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Illinois for a little over a year, with Wiegand serving as the department’s coordinator.
As that event has grown increasingly successful over its life, it has spawned numerous other fundraisers like the new rowing event.
Wiegand said he anticipated getting five officers to participate in the event with him, but the majority of the department signed up.
The officers plan to use a rowing machine one of the department’s detectives owns so they can all be in the same place.
The initial goal is to raise $1,100 — $100 per participant — from donations by community members.
Wiegand said all money raised will go to help the over 23,000 Special Olympics athletes in the states, including those from Monroe County’s two teams.
“It all goes into supporting the athletes, the games and all of that,” Wiegand said. “This year, they’ve had to really cut back the budget because fundraisers haven’t really been able to happen, and they haven’t been able to have in-person competitions the majority of this year.”
The WPD will be competing against other teams in the fundraiser and looks to have comparable success to when officers sold torch run T-shirts, merchandise and raffle tickets Aug. 28-30 at the Waterloo Schnucks.
The department sold $10,700 worth of items over the weekend, which currently ranks second in the state.
Wiegand encouraged individuals to consider donating or sharing the rowing fundraiser using the hashtag #inclusionrevolution to help meet the goals of raising money, building awareness and highlighting the athletes.
“This is just a cause that is near to me,” he said. “I really like helping out Special Olympics. If someone has the capability to donate and they do, that’s great. If they don’t, just sharing awareness for the group is awesome.”
To donate online to the Virtual Row 4 Dough, follow the link on the Waterloo Illinois Police Department Facebook page.
Individuals can also give by dropping off a check made out to Special Olympics Illinois at the police department and writing a specific officer’s name in the memo line.
The roster of rowers is available at the link on Facebook, and donations are accepted until Sept. 22.