A group of Baltimore County police officers did their best postal worker impressions this weekend, braving rain, heat and lightning on the roof of a Dunkin' Donuts to raise money for Special Olympics Maryland.
As a part of the Cops-on-Top fundraiser, officers ascended to the roof of the Dunkin' Donuts at 1600 E. Joppa Road in Towson at 6 a.m. Saturday and stayed through much of Sunday, all the while fishing for donations from patrons.
Officers on the roof went back and forth between the drive-through window behind the building and the front door, interacting with patrons and drumming up support for the Special Olympics.
Though the weather wasn't ideal — temperatures reached 90 degrees on Saturday and pouring rain on Sunday — Lt. Wes Fischer, who organized the event, spent all but 20 minutes of the 27-hour event on the roof.
"Yesterday was pretty hot, but people were happy to talk to us," Fischer said on Monday. "All the patrons and staff at Dunkin' Donuts were very accommodating."
Fischer came down only briefly when lightning began to strike Sunday morning, but braved the morning rain under a canopy. And though he's learning to operate on little sleep these days — he and his wife have a new baby that's barely a week old — Fischer even managed to catch an hour and a half of sleep in a chair.
Detective Jill Gilmore and her husband, Jerry, volunteered at the event as well, though Jill didn't spend much time on the roof.
Instead, she interacted with patrons on face-to-face on the ground. And while traffic at the Dunkin' Donuts was a bit slow, Gilmore said the patrons who came were more than willing to help.
"A majority of people that came in made some donation," she said. "Even people who just came to get a coffee, they made a donation, even if it was a dollar or 50 cents."
Gilmore, who has been participating in Special Olympics fundraisers for about nine years, said that just as important as raising money at events like this is raising awareness of the connection between law enforcement and Special Olympics, their official charity.
Even the athletes themselves got into the mix. Gilmore said one Special Olympian came and emptied his change jar, donating nearly $38 to the cause.
"The athletes are awesome," Gilmore said. "The kids and the adults who benefit from this do an amazing job, and they always come and give themselves."
Fischer said local officers have held several events to raise money for the Special Olympics recently, including the recent law enforcement torch run and an event where they waited tables at Red Robin. The stable of officers who participate grows with every event, with Cops-on-Top being the latest addition to their schedule.
Betsy Giron, senior director of special events for Special Olympics Maryland, said Dunkin' Donuts has partnered with the Special Olympics in this capacity for a few years. The first event was in Laurel two years ago and, last year, four stores participated, raising nearly $30,000.
The organization hoped to raise $50,000 between the six stores this year (the final tally was not available as of Monday) and anticipated that the event would keep growing in the future.
Despite the long, hot hours, Fischer said he was already thinking about another stint on the roof.
"We're hoping to learn things from other locations that did it and do it again next year, bigger and better," he said.