Police services raise $22,500 for Special Olympics 0
Cayley Dobie/Lacombe Globe - From left, CP Police member Palo Silvestre, and Lacombe Police Service Const. Rachael Gabrielson, perch on top of Red Deer's north Wal-Mart during the 'Free the Fuzz' fundraiser for the Special Olympics.
Unlike most people, Lacombe Police Service (LPS) Const. Rachael Gabrielson spent her time off hanging out on the roof of Wal-Mart in Red Deer's north end.
To raise money for the Special Olympics.
"Our goal is to raise as much money as possible. Last year we raised $12,500 and our goal is pretty much just to beat that by any means possible," said Gabrielson, prior to the event.
And beat it they did.
In three days, 'Free the Fuzz' raised $22,500 for the Special Olympics.
After only one day up on the roof, Gabrielson and CP police member, Palo Silvestre, had already raised $7,100. On the second day the donations kept flowing in, reaching a new daily high of $10,500. By that point they were set on reaching $20,000 by the end of the weekend, said Gabrielson.
"The last day was pretty tiring, we'd been in the sun for three days straight but just the hope that we were going to get over ($20,000) kept us going," she said.
This is the second year Gabrielson has participated in the 'Free the Fuzz' fundraiser. For three days, starting Aug. 17, she camps on the roof of a local business with another local officer. During the days, volunteers from different police services in the area stand down below, collecting donations to 'free the fuzz' from the roof.
"It's like a giant camping trip up there and we still like to interact with everyone on the ground," said Gabrielson. "We have Wal-Mart basket tied to a rope and that's how we have everything sent to us."
Prior to last year, Red Deer and the surrounding areas hadn't fundraised for the Special Olympics in more than five years. Gabrielson knew it was time to start something, especially for such an important cause.
"Some of the (athletes) do two or three events, and that's something you'd never see in the regular Olympics," she said. "I just think their dedication is definitely inspirational."
In Lacombe, there are three programs for Special Olympic athletes: five-pin bowling, softball and swimming. The local connection to the games is a major reason Gabrielson hoped people would come out and support the fundraiser.
"There (are) a lot of Special Olympians that live in Lacombe and I think it's very important for people of Lacombe to come out and support that," said Gabrielson.
'Free the Fuzz' is a national fundraiser for the Special Olympics. Gabrielson is pleased with the amount of money the public was willing to donate to the cause.
"We were all pretty excited," said Gabrielson. "Our goal was to pretty much beat what we raised last year and we ended beating it by $10,000."