Red Onion diners 'tip a cop' to benefit Special Olympics

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Fri., Jun. 21, 2013
(L-r, front) Agent Ron Littell, SWPD, Ryan Paggioli, a member of the South Windsor Special Olympics, Marc Mercadante, the eastern regional director for Special Olympics Connecticut, (back) Agent Mike Thompson, SWPD, and Kristyn Tarantino of Red Onion Restaurant.
(L-r, front) Agent Ron Littell, SWPD, Ryan Paggioli, a member of the South Windsor Special Olympics, Marc Mercadante, the eastern regional director for Special Olympics Connecticut, (back) Agent Mike Thompson, SWPD, and Kristyn Tarantino of Red Onion Restaurant.

Patrons of the Red Onion Restaurant at 855 Sullivan Ave. had their grinders and pizza brought to their tables by members of the South Windsor Police Department on Thursday, June 20, as part of the annual Tip-A-Cop fundraiser. Officers served food to diners, and every tip earned went to the Special Olympics of Connecticut.

The event was organized by Agent Ronald Littell of the SWPD. The Tip-A-Cop fundraiser was the first South Windsor event Littell organized in his long-time and dedicated mission of supporting the Special Olympics of Connecticut by way of the SWPD. "We've been doing this since at least [the year] 2000," he said. The event has steadily grown since then. "We started off the first couple of years making $2,500, $3,500. But we've increased it, and last year was $7,000."

Littell is keeping a realistic attitude toward this year's monetary goal. "If we beat last year's $7,000, I'll be happy. But honestly, anything we raise, I'll be happy with," he said. Acknowledging a still-slow economy, Littell said he would be happy if this year's event pulls in $5,000. In the end, the event raised $6,000.

Tip-A-Cop is just one of the many events and annual fundraisers Littell organizes for the Special Olympics of Connecticut. He rates Tip-A-Cop as on par with the Halloween Haunted Torch Walk in terms of funds raised. The Haunted Torch Walk, which debuted last year, raised an unexpected $6,000, and Littell anticipates even more funds at this year's event, which will be on Oct. 19.

He enjoys Tip-A-Cop in particular because it generates a lot of awareness in the community, and gets SWPD employees involved. It is those volunteers who make every fundraiser a success, said Littell, who was awarded by the town this year for his service. "I tell people, I'm grateful for the award, but it's a team effort," he said. He was extremely thankful to the waiters and waitresses at Red Onion, who forfeited their tips during the event in order to make the fundraiser possible.

For the past two years, Littell has led the SWPD to the first-place ranking among police departments raising funds for Special Olympics of Connecticut. This year, he is going for that "triple crown," and is feeling fierce competition from Bridgeport.

For 2012, SWPD raised $51,000. Littell said SWPD is off to a good start, though they are below where they were at this point last year. Nevertheless, he remains dedicated to the ultimate goal of his work. "Every dollar I raise is a dollar Special Olympics didn't have," Littell said.


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