You won't have to decide between eating out or donating to the Special Olympics tonight.
Local law enforcement members will be out in force between this evening and Wednesday from 5 and 9 p.m. at Applebee's Neighborhood Grill collecting money for the program in the annual "Tip a Cop" program. Across the state, 11 Applebee's restaurants will be hosting officers, troopers and deputies in seven North Dakota cities, including Minot.
In fact, since the statewide program began in 2007, the Minot Applebee's has led the way, according to Kathleen Meagher, a spokeswoman for Special Olympics North Dakota. In single restaurant earnings, the Minot location captured more than $3,000 of the total of more than $14,500 in contributions across the state in 2012.
"Minot took the lead in 2011 and then they blew everyone away in 2010," Meagher said, saying the same for 2009.
"It has to be the approach officers are taking with the customers," Chief Jason Olson of the Minot Police Department said. "We approach people and tell them about the great cause and we've been fortunate."
Olson will be participating for his third time and will be accompanied by Officer Erik Laudenschlager.
"Well, every year we've sent individuals whethere its to the opening ceremonies at the dome, the tip a cops program, and the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run," said Sgt. Michael McCloud of the North Dakota Highway Patrol Minot office. "We try to rotate everyone through so that everyone gets the experience in their career not once but several times."
McCloud and Trooper Travis Skar will both be representing the Highway Patrol during the events and it is a first time for both. Neither, though, are new to Special Olympics North Dakota.
"Several times I've been to the ceremonies at the dome where they do opening ceremonies," McCloud added. "Otherwise, I'm not much of a runner so I leave that up to the younger guys; the young, fast troopers that we have."
"He's actually participated in the opening ceremonies at the dorm and every year he participates in the torch run," said McCloud of Skar.
"Really what they do is just accompany the waiter or waitress and inform people about the Special Olympics and what we're asking for is a tip separate from the waiter or waitress to help fund the Special Olympics," said Lt. Bob Roed of the Ward County Sheriff's Department, who is handling their part of the event.
Roed won't be participating this year, although he has in the past. Instead, deputies Anne Millerbernd and Nick Wooster will be representing the department.
The Minot Police Department and the North Dakota Highway Patrol will be splitting shifts tonight and the Ward County Sheriff's Department and Airmen from Minot Air Force Base will be splitting shifts Wednesday night.