Now in its 5th year, Special Olympics Wisconsin’s Run with the Cops brings athletes, law enforcement and fans of all ages together for a fun-filled evening 5K and walk.
What began as an outside-the-box idea brought back from a Law Enforcement Torch Run conference has blossomed into a successful fundraising event that is now expanding across the state every year. Started by former UW-Stout Police Chief Lisa Walter on the UW-Stout campus in Menomonie, the event has now expanded to nine runs this year, with the newest being a Milwaukee run taking place in October.
“We’re fortunate enough to partner with law enforcement in this event. It’s great for Special Olympics Wisconsin but it’s also great for them (law enforcement) because they get to reach the public in a fun, new way,” said Nicci Sprangers, senior director of special events with Special Olympics Wisconsin and one of the planners who helped start Run with the Cops along with Chief Walter.
One of the big appeals of the increasingly popular night run is the myriad ways in which the race organizers get creative in planning their runs. Routes are lined with law enforcement vehicles that have their lights on, bathing the courses in red and blue. Runners transform into emergency vehicles themselves by wearing red and blue glow gear. Interactive displays allow runners to get up-close and personal peeks at SWAT vehicles, mobile command centers and K9 officers. Each run also adds its own wrinkle. Some have “kids vs. cops donut eating contests” while others have favorite squad car competitions.
With such fun attractions, it’s no wonder that the two 2017 spring runs at UW-Parkside and De Pere were huge successes. Both runs increased revenue from 2016. The 2017 fall runs begin September 28 with the original at UW-Stout kicking off the fall season.
Athlete Mike Shilts of Menomonie will be there for that first fall run. He’ll be one of many trying out a Run with the Cops for the first time as it continues to grow in popularity.
“This will be my first Run with the Cops but I love running and I’m excited to see the community run together, especially at night,” Shilts said.
According to Sprangers, the 2016 Run with the Cops raised over $102,000 for Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes with over 2,500 runners participating across the state. This was a huge jump from 2015 when the run made roughly $65,000 with 1,400 runners participating.
“We really see communities get excited and come together to show their support for both our Special Olympics athletes and their local law enforcement officers,” Sprangers said.
Registration is only $25, with opportunities to raise more and earn prizes. If you want to run with the cops glowing from head-to-toe, find a Run with the Cops near you and register today!