UP supports good cause

University Police (UP) seems to be living up to the phrase, “maintain community peace, safety and quality of life,” posted on its website. The latest example is through a new fundraiser to support Special Olympics Florida (SOF).

UP is selling T-shirts, hats and raffle tickets to advertise the 2010 Hillsborough Law Enforcement Torch Run, an annual county-specified run for law enforcement officers throughout the state that benefits the athletes of SOF, said UP spokeswoman Lt. Meg Ross. All proceeds from the sales help to fund SOF, she said.

According to the SOF website, the organization allows intellectually disabled individuals ages 8 and up to participate in 20 different Olympic-style games, like bocce ball, cycling, volleyball and soccer.

Skylar Poletz, a sophomore majoring in elementary education, said the event is something that she holds close to her heart.

“My sister is disabled and she wouldn’t be able to participate in the Special Olympics, but so many others could,” Poletz said. “There are a lot of people who are affected with a cause like this.”

This year, UP does not have any officers participating in the run, which draws participants from all law enforcement
agencies in Hillsborough County, because of logistical reasons. The run goes from MacDill Air Force Base to the Tampa Convention Center.

“At this point, there is no one participating in the run from UP because we would have to take off and be off duty to do so,” Ross said.

In support, UP has bought and sold fundraising items instead. It has done so since Jan. 1 and will continue, Ross said, until May 5 – the day of the run. So far, UP has generated $373 from T-shirt, hat and raffle ticket sales. The raffle tickets will be entered into a drawing for a two person, seven-day Carnival cruise.

“I am in charge of the sales, and I originally just started selling to people within the building and people related to USF police,” Ross said. “I thought about it and sent out an e-mail to others at USF. It just sort of hit me that I could make more money with more people.”

UP has participated in fundraising for SOF since around 2000, Ross said, alongside about 3,000 law enforcement officers from Hillsborough County.

The actual Olympic games for SOF will take place May 14 and 15 in Kissimmee, where 1,550 athletes are expected to participate. Those interested in purchasing a shirt can contact Ross at mkross@admin.usf.edu, she said. Shirts cost $12, and UP has 17 left.