HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Have you ever lied to a law enforcement officer? It’s a crime. I had to tell a little white lie to get Sgt. Brent Patterson to come to the station so I could Pay It Forward to him. We wanted to give him some cash to help area athletes get to the state Special Olympics this year.
They may never set a world record like Lawrence County’s Jesse Owens or swim as fast as Huntsville’s Olympic medalist Margaret Hoelzer. But every Special Olympics athlete is a winner. Affording the trip to the state games in Troy may be one of the toughest challenges they face all year. That’s why law enforcement officers across north Alabama work to raise money with events through the year.
They wait tables for “Tip a Cop” night at restaurants and they sell t-shirts. “The t-shirts are being printed as we speak. They should be in here any day now,” Sgt. Brent Patterson with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office told us. And let’s not forget “Cops on Top” where they climb onto the top of a business and raise money. Those donations help with everything from uniforms and transportation to food and lodging for Special Olympics athletes. When Sgt. Patterson said, “It's amazing what it does for these kids,” I asked him what it does for him. He replied, “It makes me appreciate life more.”
Sgt. Patterson is the north Alabama regional coordinator for the Law Enforcement Torch Run. After seven years, the event has become his cause. “It's a part of who I am and you know what, I look forward to it every year,” he told me.
To get the ball rolling on Madison County’s effort to raise $20,000 locally this year, we surprised the Sgt. By Paying It Forward. I gave him $319 dollars to use for Special Olympics. “How about that. I never expected that,” Patterson said. “I can tell you this Jerry. Every penny of this will go to some kids here locally that will help them. It's going to do a lot.”
And about that little white lie I had to tell to get him to the station, I don’t think I’ll be facing charges. With a smile on his face, Sgt. Patterson said, “This is extremely humbling and I don't even know what to say. You got me. You got me Jerry Hayes. Thank you sir.”
If you’d like to donate to the event this year or get one of those t-shirts, here are a couple of links for more information on that and upcoming events!