Channahon police raise money for Special Olympics
By Kris Stadalsky email@example.com May 18, 2012 4:42PM
Updated: June 29, 2012 9:38AM
If you thought you saw people making a ruckus on the roof of the McDonald’s restaurant on Route 6 and Yellow Pine Drive last weekend in Channahon, your eyes were not playing tricks on you.
The roof dwellers were Channahon police officers drawing attention to their fundraiser, Golden Arches for Gold Medals, to benefit the Special Olympics Illinois Torch Run.
Channahon’s former Police Chief Joe Pena, now village administrator, hung out on the roof from
7 a.m. until after 1 p.m. The weather was pretty stinky — cold, windy and intermittent rain showers. But that didn’t dampen the spirits of Pena or anyone else collecting donations.
Officers, cadets and Channahon Police alumni members collected money down below in front of the restaurant and at the light on the corner from motorists. Others took their turns with Pena on the roof.
“He’s been up there the whole time,” Channahon’s community service officer Dan McDonald said of Pena.
For a donation of $15 or more, supporters could choose from a Torch Run T-shirt or baseball cap. But any amount of change was welcome.
“Anything and everything we can get is going to be a big help,” McDonald said.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Illinois Torch Run for Special Olympics. The event is the single largest fundraiser in the state benefitting Special Olympics. In 2010, Illinois raised more than $2.9 million, making our state the second-highest grossing Torch Run program in the world.
The Torch Run brings together more than 3,000 officers from every branch of law enforcement as they carry the Flame of Hope nearly 1,500 miles (32 different legs), passing it on from town to town. The final destination is the opening ceremonies of Special Olympics Summer Games held June 11-13 in Normal.
Pena served as the state Torch Run director up until this year. He’s been involved in Special Olympics for more than 20 years. An avid runner, Pena ran the entire 32-mile leg of the Torch Run through Kane County the first year he participated.
He was asked to represent the Kane County leg of the trip at the Special Olympics opening ceremony that year. That’s when he really got hooked on the cause.
“I didn’t know anything about Special Olympics,” he said. “It was amazing to see the effect law enforcement had on this group of people.”
Pena and other law enforcement officials were met with smiles, hugs and high fives by the participants.
“It was genuine,” he said.
The money raised by the Law Enforcement Torch Run, and other Special Olympic fundraisers, provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. It helps to insure that as many athletes as possible get to compete.
“Win or lose, the goal is always to be brave in the attempt,” according to the Special Olympics website.
Golden Arches for Gold Medals is Channahon police officers’ annual Torch Run fundraiser.
Minooka’s police officers will hold their Illinois Torch Run fundraiser, the Top on Cop event at Minooka Dunkin’ Donuts, from
5 a.m. until 2 p.m. June 1. There will be collections at both Ridge Road locations, but if you want to see officers stuck up on the roof, they will be at the north Ridge Road location closest to Interstate 80.
Although there may be a friendly rivalry between the two departments to raise funds, their one goal is to send more athletes to the Special Olympics in June.
“They just want to be treated for their abilities, not looked at for their disabilities,” Pena said. “All they ask for is an opportunity to (participate). That’s what we provide for them.”
Reach Kris Stadalsky at