PITTSFIELD -- The local Walmart could be the most secure place in the city later this week thanks to a fundraiser for area Special Olympians.

Nearly 75 local and state law enforcement officers will take turns ascending to the Walmart roof for the 3rd annual "Cop on Top" on Friday and Saturday. The two-day event raises money for Special Olympics programs and athletes in the Berkshires, according to organizers.

The event officially kicks off at 7 a.m. Friday and is expected to last into the early evening hours.

John Bassi, the coordinator of the fundraiser, hopes to surpass the goal of $55,000.

"When we first did this [in 2010] we had a goal of $5,000 and we raised $46,000," said Bassi, a Pittsfield police investigator.

Last year, "Cop on Top" raised $53,000, eclipsing the goal of $50,000.

During the fundraiser, groups of 5 to 10 officers -- on their own time -- spend two to three hours on the roof at a time, calling attention to Special Olympics and urging people to donate. In addition, off-duty officers will be in and around the Walmart during store hours with canisters for people to drop in cash or checks for Special Olympics.

"Certain officers will help out before their night shift, others will come after finishing a day shift," Bassi said. "Nobody is getting paid to do this and some are taking a vacation day."

He noted the initial solicitation of area businesses has already netted $10,000.


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Lindsay Blagg of Lenox, a 12-year veteran of Special Olympics, will light the ceremonial Olympic cauldron that will burn throughout the event.

Blagg, along with Bassi, are among the seven participants representing Massachusetts at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea next month. Blagg, who recently elevated to advanced skier within Special Olympics, is schedule to compete in alpine skiing.

Bassi will participate in the torch run after the Olympic flame arrives in the southeast Asian country on Jan. 21. The torch will make its way to PyeongChang, east of Seoul, on Jan. 29 for the opening ceremony.

Bassi is a member of the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Torch Run program, a year-round fundraising and advocacy partnership between police and Special Olympics.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.

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What: Local and state police officers will participate in the annual "Cop on Top" fundraiser to benefit local Special Olympics.

When: 7 a.m. Friday through Saturday evening.

Where: Walmart store, Berkshire Crossings
shopping plaza, off Hubbard Avenue, Pittsfield.

To donate: Those unable to attend can send a check payable to: Special Olympics Massachusetts c/o Pittsfield Police Department, 39 Allen St., Pittsfield MA, 01201. Attention: John Bassi on the envelope and note "Cop on Top" on the check.