The goal is simple.
Raise money for Special Olympics Wisconsin, but the complexities behind UW-Eau Claire’s Running with the Cops event spans much further.
The Student Athletic Advisory Committee, or SAAC, is sponsoring a 5K run or mile walk, and SAAC president Megan Mulligan said her goal is to not only raise money for a great cause, but to bring the community together and strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and university students.
Mulligan said she jumped at the opportunity for Eau Claire to host its first annual Running with the Cops the moment she heard of the possibility.
“We have never had anything on campus like this,” Mulligan said.
College students running with city police may be new to Eau Claire, but several UW System schools have hosted the same event already this year. UW-Stout, -Oshkosh and -Platteville all have run for the cause.
With Eau Claire being the fourth school in the state to participate, Mulligan said setting a goal for total dollars raised was easy — beat Stout.
If the cause was not already good enough, an opportunity to out-raise Stout’s total of $2,000 should inspire students to join the run.
A $20 registration fee gets participants a T-shirt. Additional donations are always welcome.
Last weekend, Oshkosh students, community members and police embraced the event, and more than 450 runners helped raise over $16,000.
University police sergeant, Chris Kirchman hopes Eau Claire can follow in the conference rival’s footsteps in getting people out to the run.
Kirchman said he has been busy recruiting other local police agencies to participate in the event. He sees the event as a chance to support the growth of both Special Olympics and police-civilian relations.
“A lot of times people see a squad car behind them and they start to panic because they get that internal feeling they are going to get pulled over,” Kirchman said. “Anytime we have an opportunity to positively interact with people in our community, it is a great way to get to know others.”
Local police will be scattered throughout the running route the police helped design, Kirchman said. Cop cars will light the trails, and several officers plan to participate in the race as well.
With both students and local police agencies ready to run, Special Olympics Wisconsin Director of Development Karen Kraus said she believes when runners witness first-hand the beauty within Special Olympians, they will understand how fulfilling it is to participate.
“People need to support this event because all it takes is for them to meet a Special Olympic athlete one time, and they will get it,” Kraus said.
There will be Special Olympic athletes at the event, she said, and their presence is such a vital part of what the Running with the Cops event offers.
Kraus said when she looks at a Special Olympics athlete, she doesn’t see their disabilities. She sees their abilities. She admires their endless amounts of positivity and happiness.
“I’ve always felt that if the general population could take one percent of a Special Olympian’s attitude, then the whole world would be a better place,” Kraus said.
The people of Eau Claire will have the opportunity to run side by side with police officers and Special Olympians at 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 on the campus mall. Anyone can register online on the Special Olympics Wisconsin website.