CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake resident Brent Kampert, 31, enthusiastically greeted everyone who walked into the Crystal Lake Texas Roadhouse on Friday afternoon.
Kampert, a Special Olympics athlete, was on hand to help the Crystal Lake and Algonquin police departments raise money for the organization at the restaurant, which was serving a free, selected-menu lunch. Patrons were asked to leave a donation, and 100 percent of the proceeds went to Special Olympics Illinois.
“I’m happy to be here today,” said Kampert, who won a silver medal in the 100-meter dash at the Special Olympics 2014 USA Games. “I hope to reach out to other people with disabilities so we can help each other reach our goals. The law enforcement agencies have been very helpful. They do a lot of fundraisers for us.”
Special Olympics has been teaming up with police departments across the country for many years to raise money and awareness for athletes with mental or physical disabilities. This is the fourth year that the Crystal Lake and Algonquin departments have been partnering with Texas Roadhouse for the fundraiser. Officers teamed up with the restaurant’s servers to bring food to the guests.
Eddie Pluviose, community relations officer with the Crystal Lake Police Department, said he looks forward to the fundraiser every year because he enjoys building relationships with the athletes.
“We want to bring awareness to Special Olympics,” he said. “And with more awareness comes more donations. We also like interacting with the community in a different way.”
Sgt. Dennis Walker, Special Olympics liaison at the Algonquin Police Department, said the officers in the department enjoy supporting Special Olympics, and they always have fun serving lunch.
“The athletes are great, and it’s a great cause,” he said. “We can see how [the athletes] benefit from our work. We can see the Olympians as they’re competing and the joy it brings to them.”
Molly Maroney, manager at Texas Roadhouse, said the Special Olympics fundraiser is one of her favorite events of the year. She said they earned $5,500 last year and hoped to raise more than $6,000 this year.
“The Special Olympics athletes are here, so people can see where their donations go. They’re greeting guests and thanking them, and we appreciate their involvement,” Maroney said. “We also have a great partnership with the police who are involved and actually working this shift.”