PITTSFIELD -- Despite the snow, rain and temperatures just above freezing, Pittsfield Police Officer Sean Klink had no plans on seeking comfort anytime soon.
Klink was on the roof of the Walmart in Pittsfield all day Friday and Saturday doing his part in the Cop on Top event, an annual fundraiser for the Special Olympics. The event began at 7 a.m. Friday and lasted through 6 p.m. Saturday.
With a microphone in hand Friday afternoon, he was calling out to Christmas shoppers some 40 feet below him to donate to any of the barricade of officers swarming the Berkshire Crossing plaza. There were warmer places he could be, but buried in winter weather gear that included gloves, a ski cap, and jacket he wouldn't be leaving the roof unless someone pushed him off the side.
"Two years ago my wife and I had twins and Olivia was born with Down syndrome. This makes it that much more worthwhile," said Klink, who had volunteered for the event even when he was in college. "It gives it more of a personal meaning."
Officers across Berkshire County gathered during their off hours at the Walmart and had raised $50,000 by 6 p.m. Saturday for the Special Olympics, which hosts events throughout the year for young adults with intellectual disabilities. The upcoming year's local Special Olympics events will take place in the spring at Monument Mountain Regional High School, but the national nonprofit hosts free sporting activities throughout the year.
While temporarily interrupted from their charity drive on Friday when they had to handle a disruptive customer in Walmart, they wouldn't let early winter weather stop them.
"If you give to the Cop on Top fundraiser, that money stays in Berkshire County," Klink said.
Berkshire County residents donated in multiple ways. There were more than 40 officers collecting at the plaza on Saturday. There were also individual raffles for game tickets for Boston Bruins and Boston Red Sox games as well as the college basketball matchup between Boston College and national power Duke. Also raffled off were a travel recliner and 75 other prizes.
In addition, proceeds from sales at a Krispy Cone food station in the parking lot was also went to the Special Olympics.
Berkshire County officers have raised more than $150,000 in the last three years for the Special Olympics, according to Pittsfield Police officer Darren Derby, who coordinated the event.
Derby, along with his wife, and a total of about eight other hardy souls slept in a tent on Friday donated by the Army National Guard perched atop the roof. Klink spent most of his time on the roof, but he was allowed to step off for brief stints.
The stunt-manship helps, but there were some, like Paula Foley, who only needed to hear where the money was going before she reached into her purse.
"The Special Olympics are awesome," said Foley, who spoke as she walked to her car after some shopping. "I know plenty of people who participate in it. My brother did many years ago. It's a great thing for the community!"
To reach John Sakata:
or (413) 496-6240.
On Twitter: @jsakata