Free the Fuzz takes over Walmart roof, raises $12,700
Thursday, Jul 31, 2014 06:00 am
For the third consecutive year, the Free the Fuzz fundraiser took over the Airdrie Walmart’s roof from July 25 to 27, and this year, officers raised $12,700 for the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Alberta.
The annual fundraiser puts officers on the roof of Walmart for three days as a fundraiser.
Dianne Kuhn, fundraising coordinator for Special Olympics Airdrie, has been involved in the event for seven years with her daughter, Nicole. She and her family moved to Airdrie from Edmonton two years ago but took part in the Free the Fuzz event in the provincial capitol for five years and in Airdrie’s event in 2013.
“I’m just ecstatic because this is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year,” said Kuhn.
“We love this one because it goes on for three days and (the event encompasses) a wide range of everything we can do with the Law Enforcement Torch Run. Proceeds go to the Special Olympics Airdrie, Alberta and all through Canada.”
This year’s total is down from the $15,000 raised in 2013, however, Kuhn said she was still pleased with how the event went, in spite of the competition they had with the Alberta Summer Games being in Airdrie at the same time.
“I think it was really good for the weekend that we had,” she said. “It started picking up more once people were packing up to go home, once the (Summer) Games were done.”
“With it being really nice out, a lot of people had gone camping and out of town,” she added. “I found it to be a lot of fun, though. The athletes did, too.”
Melissa Eye, a Correctional Officer at the Calgary Remand Centre, took part as one of three officers to camp out on the scaffolding erected between the two entrances at Walmart. It was her first year being involved and she was hopeful the event would be successful on July 25.
“We’re expecting a huge turnout, lots of sheriffs, lots of correctional officers, lots of RCMP, and hopefully just to engage the community in Special Olympics and raise as much money as we can,” she said.
Joining Eye up on the roof were Balbreet Sidhu, a Sheriff with the Calgary Police Service (CPS), and Cst. Kristine Brousseau from the Airdrie RCMP.
The officers sold T-Shirts, ball caps, and stuffed K-9 dogs at the three-day event with all proceeds going to the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
A portion of those proceeds will go to the local Special Olympics group. Toques were being sold for $10 with all proceeds going directly back to Special Olympics Airdrie.
Maple Leaf Foods supplied hot dogs and buns for the barbecue that cost $5 for a drink, hot dog and chips.
The officers on the scaffolding, assisted by more down at road level, did their best to entice people to donate or stop for the barbecue by breaking out their best dance moves.
This was Sidhu’s first time participating, and before heading up to the store’s roof, he admitted to being a little nervous.
“I dunno, we’ll see. Sounds like fun,” he said. “My dancing skills aren’t that good.”
Det. Theresa Garagan of the CPS is director for the Law Enforcement Torch Run in Alberta. According to Garagan, the Free the Fuzz event has been taking place across Canada for the past 12 years.
“This is Airdrie’s third year consecutive,” she said.
“We had done it probably seven or eight years ago but there’s been a bit of a hiatus.”
Events planned throughout the province raised almost $500,000 for Special Olympics Alberta in 2013 and Garagan is confident they’ll exceed that in 2014.
Garagan said it’s an important event for all involved.
“What the athletes need in order for them to participate in games and training, to have uniforms, without the support of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, they wouldn’t have the funds,” she said.
“We’re the No. 1 fundraiser internationally.”
Jordan, 16, and Nicole, 17, are two Airdrie Special Olympians who came out to help with the fundraiser.
“(I’m) really excited (about this event.) I started with Special Olympics in mid-February. It’s fun. I get lots of activity,” said Jordan.
Nicole has been involved in Special Olympics and the fundraiser for seven years.
“In the winter I play bowling, swimming, floor hockey, and in the summer, I play bocce ball and t-ball,” she explained. “I like (this event) because my friends are here.”
For more information on Special Olympics Airdrie, visit www.specialolympics.ab.ca/airdrie