They don't have to do it.

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For years, officers with the Natrona County Sheriff's Office, as well as other local law enforcement agencies, gather at a Casper restaurant to spend the evening 'waiting' on the restaurant's patrons.

The annual Tip-A-Cop fundraiser is designed to raise money for Special Olympics Wyoming, a non-profit organization that gives Wyoming athletes a chance to find their potential and live their dreams.

And the organization wouldn't be what it is if it weren't for the multiple community partners and agencies that offer their time, energy, and resources to make these dreams come true.

"Special Olympics Wyoming partners with law enforcement agencies throughout the state of Wyoming," said Cathy Bisiar, the Director of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Wyoming. "When our law enforcement are involved in fundraising for our community, they bring awareness to our program and also bring the engagement of our community."

And that's exactly what the community did. They got involved. The Tip-A-Cop fundraiser raised $5,847 over the course of two nights of serving at Casper's Texas Roadhouse.

"With our officers already working in public service, it's pretty natural for them to just want to give back to our community," said Kiera Grogan, the Public Information Officer with the Natrona County Sheriff's Office. "It's not the best day of anyone's lives when they call 911, so another way for our officers to connect with the community is by volunteering."

Corporal Soller, Deputy Heidi, and Deputy Fay, along with Mike Ogden of the Casper Police Department, spent two nights serving at the Texas Roadhouse, interacting with customers and athletes, and finding out how tough of a job serving actually is.

"[Our officers] served water and non-alcoholic beverages," Grogan stated. "They helped take orders and delivered those bread baskets that everyone knows and loves at Texas Roadhouse. They got to bring out some food and just directly team up with the servers there and act as the 'Celebrity Servers,' is what I think they actually called them."

The 'Celebrity Servers' must have done a good job, because over the course of two nights, they were able to raise more than $5,000 in 'tips.'

Photo Courtesy of the Natrona County Sheriff's Office
Photo Courtesy of the Natrona County Sheriff's Office

And every dollar of those tips will go directly towards supporting the athletes of Special Olympics Wyoming.

"We do not charge our athletes for any travel, competition, or participation in any sporting events," Bisiar shared. "So the funds that our law enforcement raised goes to over 1600 athletes statewide, so that they can participate and be included in their communities through sports."

Every dollar earned on those two nights is a dollar that helps make a dream come true. Special Olympics Wyoming relies on these types of fundraisers to not just keep their doors open, but to literally sponsor these athletes who might not have otherwise been given a chance to shine.

"What a better way to volunteer than by raising money for one of our local organizations, where we see these athletes traveling all around the country and sometimes the world, going and making names for themselves and proudly wearing and representing the state of Wyoming," Grogan beamed. "It's really awesome; one, to be able to see the direct impact on our local athletes here and then getting that money to continue training and to continue competing. And then, on the other end of it, is that our deputies get to go out and make those positive interactions. They get to put on their uniforms in an event like Tip-A-Cop and go out and meet these faces that are in our communities. It's just as important for our deputies to get out and see bright, shining faces in our community while still raising money for our local athletes."

Photo Courtesy of the Natrona County Sheriff's Office
Photo Courtesy of the Natrona County Sheriff's Office

And, of course, none of that would even be possible if it wasn't for Texas Roadhouse.

"Texas Roadhouse is a big supporter of Special Olympics," Bisiar stated. "It's very easy to work with the managers; they're always gungho. Our Texas Roadhouse here in Evansville has a new manager named Bear Espinoza. He comes from Colorado and he said he was very, very involved and did several Tip-A-Cop events in Colorado. So he was super excited to have us here for his first time."

Bisiar also stated that Chief Mike Thompson with the Evansville Police Department recruited servers from his department as well, as he does every year. It was truly a community partnership, in every sense of the term.

"For Texas Roadhouse to welcome both our law enforcement agencies and Special Olympics Wyoming into their restaurant is so incredible because, at the end of the day, everybody is there to help bring in money for our local Special Olympics group," Grogan stated. "It's an honor for Texas Roadhouse to continue hosting this. I know it's been a couple years that they've done this and it's really special that every year they welcome us back and they're excited to have us because, at the end of the day, we're all working together for a great cause."

Photo Courtesy of the Natrona County Sheriff's Office
Photo Courtesy of the Natrona County Sheriff's Office

While Texas Roadhouse was a huge component of the success of the Tip-A-Cop event, the most important piece was the community turnout. Many patrons came to the restaurant on these two nights because they knew about the event. Others were there just because. But all of them raised more than $5,000 with their tips.

"Oh my goodness, if I could tell the community one thing it would be...just...big hugs and thank you's," laughed Bisiar. "From the bottom of my heart, thank you. They live this mission of Special Olympics Wyoming. They are truly passionate about that. And including everybody in the sports and they love and allowing them to be a part of the community through their efforts is just incredible. So I just have a big hug for them."

That hug will be felt throughout the days, weeks, and months to come as each of these Special Olympics Wyoming athletes get to follow their dreams and pursue their passions. They're able to do that because of our local law enforcement. They're able to do it because of our community.

And our community doesn't have to do it. They do it, because they want to. Because they believe in the mission of Special Olympics Wyoming. Because they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

Or maybe just because Texas Roadhouse has really, really good bread.

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