You can leave your driver’s license and registration in your pocket, but the motorcycle officers would like you to open your wallet Thursday evening when the Phoenix police join up with Applebee’s restaurant to help Special Olympics.

The officers, on their own time but in uniform, will be teaming up with a Special Olympics athlete and a “real” Applebee’s server to help wait on patrons from 5 to 9 p.m. Jan. 28 at 4609 E. Chandler Blvd.

“We basically serve food and on the table will be a separate envelope, so if anyone wants to make a donation to Special Olympics they can,” said Sgt. Mike Hein, who is hoping that the police officers will be able to raise $5,000 during the four hours.

One hitch may be that none of the officers have ever served food before.

“It will be interesting. That’s why they have assigned us servers,” Hein laughed.

And while it’s fun when police officers, especially motorcycle officers who often are seen handing out tickets, end up serving customers, the goal of helping Special Olympics is serious.

According to Ruth Sanchez, last year Phoenix police raised $60,000, which went to help cover the costs of uniforms, training and event venues for the Special Olympics in Arizona.

“It’s very expensive and with the economy the way it is, it’s even harder to raise funds,” said Sanchez, who is the Special Olympics law enforcement coordinator.

Law enforcement has had a soft spot for Special Olympics and special needs children for years.

For Hein, the attraction is simple.

“Because they are special needs children, they often get excluded from normal activities,” he said. “Special Olympics allow them to do things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience.”

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