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Cops & Burgers raising funds for Special Olympics
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
May 29, 2013 | 2868 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Nevada Air National Guard Chief Master Sgt. Chuck Allen stands alongside the official 2013 Cops and Burgers truck on Victorian Plaza Wednesday afternoon. The annual event will take place Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and benefits Special Olympics Nevada.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Nevada Air National Guard Chief Master Sgt. Chuck Allen stands alongside the official 2013 Cops and Burgers truck on Victorian Plaza Wednesday afternoon. The annual event will take place Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and benefits Special Olympics Nevada.
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SPARKS — Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Chuck Allen remembers the 6:30 a.m. cup of Starbucks coffee on Martin Luther King Jr. Day where he passed his ‘Cops and Burgers’ idea to a Save Mart manager, who then “took it up the ladder,” before the store hosted the inaugural fundraiser.

“For me, personally, I was a member of the NHP and the Department of Public Safety’s Honor Guard team for 11 years and I had the opportunity to see far too many people go before their time,” Allen said. “Every time I was at an event, it had sharp-looking officers collected from many agencies at one location and I thought ‘Why not take that idea and make it positive.’”

The annual fundraiser benefitting Special Olympics Nevada has seen three venue changes in its five-year history ranging from Save Mart parking lots in west Reno to the Grand Sierra Resort. The event has found a new home this year occupying empty space on Victorian Plaza on the north side of Victorian Avenue.

The Cops and Burgers event, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, is much more than local law enforcement officers and volunteers serving lunch packages for attendees, which was the experience upon inception. The event continues “adding something new every year,” according to Allen, and features a show-n-shine car show, police agency displays and demonstrations and, this year’s new attraction, a hot air balloon.

“It is a community based event and I think it is important, in my opinion, for the public to come out and meet the people who serve them all year long,” Allen said Wednesday while talking logistics with vendor managers. “They cannot only see them and shake a hand, but they can see the latest equipment we have and the animals we use in law enforcement. It is a great opportunity.”

Sparks Police Department, who has been a supporter of the event since its humble beginnings, will be on hand and providing what Allen called “the most to see” in terms of equipment and animal officer demos. Reno Police Department, Washoe County and Storey County Sheriff’s offices will be present as well as California and Nevada Highway patrols.

The Klassic Kruisers Car Club-sponsored car show, though it began as a ‘classic’ car show, is open to anyone wishing to register a vehicle for $20, which also includes a “goodie bag,” meal ticket, raffle ticket and dash plaque for the first 150 entries. Allen said the fundraising efforts in 2012 brought in more than $14,000 and has set this year’s bar at $15,000.

As with the entire event, Allen has seen the evolution of NHP’s relationship with Special Olympics Nevada morph into a close partnership. He said he was first introduced to them in 2004 before attending his first Summer Games in Las Vegas in 2005. When 2009 rolled around, the Nevada Sheriffs and Chiefs Association designated Special Olympics Nevada as its foremost charity.

“Seeing the athletes and how they look up to law enforcement agencies — we are like heroes to them,” Allen said, adding that NHP participates in the annual Torch Run for the Special Olympics.

Raffle prizes and car show awards may be the highlight for those attending the event, but planning the event comes with its own headaches and, in turn, its own rewards. Managing a new venue has been another challenge piled onto Allen’s plate, but the chance to spread awareness about Nevada’s Special Olympics organization is an endeavor he doesn’t mind undertaking.

“This is the only day out of the entire year where I hear my name repeated more times than I want to hear it,” Allen said, “But it is for a great cause. There is a lot of anxiety, as with any event, on who is going to show up, what the weather is going to be like and those variables. Anyone would probably tell you that (about planning an event).

“I think it is amazing just to see the community come out and, as I said before, it is about showcasing the athletes that are out here. It is a great opportunity for people to come walk around and it is also an opportunity for families who maybe do not know about Special Olympics Nevada or are looking into it to come out and get more information and meet some of the people who support the organization.”

Cops and Burgers will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday on Victorian Plaza across from John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks. Registration for the car show begins at 8 a.m. and meal tickets will be available from NHP for $5. For more information about the event, visit www.copsandburgers.com.
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