Bordentown Township police team up with local restaurant to raise money for Special Olympics

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Bordentown Township Mayor Stephen Benowitz stands alongside Special Olympics athlete Joseph Capone, 26, at the "Tip-a-Cop" fundraiser event on May 31 at Jimmy's American Grill. Photo by Thomas Wiedmann
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Bordentown Township Police Department Chief Brian Pesce (Right-Center) stands alongside patrons at Jimmy's American Grill at the "Tip-a-Cop" fundraiser event for the Special Olympics on May 31. Submitted Photo
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Bordentown Township Mayor Stephen Benowitz stands alongside Special Olympics athlete Joseph Capone, 26, at the "Tip-a-Cop" fundraiser event on May 31 at Jimmy's American Grill. Photo by Thomas Wiedmann
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Bordentown Township Police Department Chief Brian Pesce (Right-Center) stands alongside patrons at Jimmy's American Grill at the "Tip-a-Cop" fundraiser event for the Special Olympics on May 31. Submitted Photo

Taking a break from their daily service to the Bordentown community, the Bordentown Township Police Department served tables instead on May 31 at Jimmy’s American Grill for a worthy cause.

The event teamed up with the police department for a “Tip-a-Cop” fundraiser where the restaurant let officers serve tables alongside their staff to raise money for the Special Olympics organization, which supports athletic programs and competitions for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities

Jimmy’s American Grill owners reported that they committed 10% of their proceeds from the event along with the monies collected in tips from the officers, and raised a total of $6,834 for the Special Olympics.

Township police sergeant Frank Nucera said that the department and the Special Olympics organization have worked hand-in-hand for many years prior to the event, and that this was another way to reach out into the community to help.

“We have been involved with the Special Olympics – doing the Torch Run for many years – and over the last couple of years, we started to do ‘Tip-a-Cop’ events where we come into a local establishment and try to raise money for the Special Olympics,” Nucera said. “We come out and we start busing tables or serving water and bread, explaining everything to the patrons that come in and what we are here for.”

Given their frequent participation in events associated with the organization, Nucera said that these events not only benefits the athletes involved with the Special Olympics, but also benefits the department’s relationship with local patrons as well.

“[The best part is] is just giving back,” Nucera said. “We see the joy in the kids’ faces and knowing that we are helping out in any which way to keep this wonderful program going means the world to all of us.

“It also helps with meeting and greeting people in the community – people you may not know. Everyone comes and sees that we are out here to help everybody as much as we can, including events like this. All of us are very approachable, and this is a great community outreach program where you can come and get face-to-face time with people you may not normally get to talk to,” Nucera explained.

One of the Special Olympics athletes on-hand at the event was 26-year-old Joseph Capone. Patrons who attended the event were greeted at the restaurant’s entrance by Capone where they had an opportunity to interact with him.

His mother Lucy, who has been involved with the Special Olympics for more than a decade, said that he was diagnosed on the spectrum of autism and that events like this assist in his physical engagement with other people.

“Joseph loves to greet people, and he loves to participate and interact,” Lucy said. “It’s his chance to interact with other athletes and exercise – it’s social and physical.

“It’s nice to know that there is this support and understanding,” she added.

Alongside organization members and law enforcement officials, Bordentown municipal officials attended the event too.

As a former high school principal for approximately 20 years, township mayor Stephen Benowitz attended the event not only to show his support for the police department, but to support the Special Olympics athletes as well.

Benowitz noted that raising awareness for this particular cause was significant to him.

“My background was in special education. I was a school principal, so this is near and dear to my heart,” Benowitz said. “The support that the police have for this particular function is fantastic. The township supports everybody – all functions that the police do and all the charities that they do.”

For Bordentown Township Police Chef Brian Pesce, having his officers step out of their daily work duties to support a community cause like this symbolized the connections being made on behalf of his department to raise awareness.

“It’s another way for us to connect with the public and raise money for an amazing organization,” Pesce said. “It’s a great way for us to bring awareness for the games that we have hosted locally at the College of New Jersey.

“It brings a lot of awareness to the Special Olympics and in-turn brings in a lot of donations to further help their cause, which we are all about,” Pesce revealed.