Three remarkable events happened in Charles County in 2013 and at times it seemed the circumstances were made for television: Zombies invaded a park; cops and cows stood on the rooftops of the local Chick-fil-As; and hundreds of red-clad runners traversed the streets of La Plata. Even more remarkable, these events produced a record-breaking achievement: Combined, they helped the Charles County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) raise more than $47,000 for Special Olympics Maryland (SOMD).
“This is truly an outstanding accomplishment,” said Sheriff Rex Coffey. “This reflects all the hard work involved in coordinating these fundraisers, as well as our deep admiration for the Special Olympics athletes and our commitment to their organization. I want to especially recognize Sgt. Gus Proctor, who is the primary coordinator behind the success of these phenomenal events.”
The CCSO hosted the first of the three fundraisers, the Charles County leg of the 27th Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run, on June 6. The Torch Run helps escort the SOMD Olympic Torch ¬¬– the Flame of Hope – across Maryland and is one of multiple Torch Runs in the state that converge annually at Towson University to light the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics Summer Games. About 500 people participated in 2013, including CCSO personnel, U.S. Marines assigned to the Chemical-Biological Incident Response Force (C-BIRF) at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indian Head and SOMD athletes. Two routes, a 3.5-mile route for runners and a 3-mile route for walkers, departed Texas Roadhouse in La Plata and returned to the same shopping center for lunch and a medal presentation ceremony. Sponsors included Texas Roadhouse, Chick-fil-A of Waldorf, Port Tobacco Marina and Buffalo Wild Wings. The Torch Run raises money through the sale of commemorative T-shirts and hats and accounts for about $24,000 of the fundraising total.
The second fundraiser, the First Annual Zombie Invasion 5K, was held Nov. 17 at Laurel Springs Regional Park in La Plata. During the first phase of the event – the transition phase – volunteers from the Port Tobacco Players, the College of Southern Maryland and the Maurice J. McDonough and La Plata high school drama clubs helped participants make the transition to zombies. In the second phase, the zombies raced or walked a 5K route from the park to Radio Station Road, then to Rosewick Road and back to the park. In the final phase of the invasion, the zombies were treated to lunch and took part in a medal ceremony for the top zombie racers in various age categories as well as the top overall zombie racers, the top zombie fundraising group and the best dressed zombies. The Zombie Invasion 5K, a family-friendly event, welcomed about 600 undead members of the community to the park for the occasion. It raised more than $20,000 for SOMD through donations and registration fees, which included lunch, coupons from sponsors and a commemorative T-shirt. Buffalo Wild Wings, Pizza Hotline, Texas Roadhouse and the Meadows Original Frozen Custard sponsored the event.
Finally, on Dec. 6, despite the rain and cold, CCSO volunteers literally shouted their support of SOMD from the rooftops. Police and corrections officers stood atop the Chick-fil-As in La Plata and Waldorf from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to raise money and awareness for SOMD. Officers on the roofs lowered buckets to collect the donations, with help from additional officers and volunteers on the sidewalks. The Chick-fil-A in the St. Charles Towne Center mall also participated by displaying wall decals with the names of customers who chose to donate to SOMD.
“I hope anyone who wasn’t able to join us for any of these fundraisers this year considers joining us next year,” said Sheriff Coffey. “They’re a great time and it’s for a great cause.”