Profiles: ‘Freezin’ for a Reason’
By Jocelyn Stott
Profiles: Brian Asmus
Liberty Lake Police Chief Brian Asmus is willing to do a lot of crazy things for Special Olympics, including jumping into Liberty Lake twice an hour from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 22 as a Super Plunger. And then jump in the lake again the next day at noon for the public Polar Plunge fundraiser. Asmus even paid money - and convinced others to pay money - for the chance to take part in "freezin' for a reason."
The reason for the stunt is to raise awareness and funds for the Washington Special Olympics, a cause that has been special to Asmus for about 15 years.
"Just knowing that you're helping challenged athletes be successful at something is a great feeling," he said. "I think sometimes the volunteers get more out of helping than the athletes get from receiving."
Asmus led Team Cop-Cicles into Liberty Lake this year as Eastern Washington's highest donating team at nearly $11,000. Overall, this year's plunge was expected to bring in more than $50,000.
In order to participate in the Super Plunge, held the day before the public plunge, fundraisers had to collect a minimum of $650 in pledges, while the public plungers had to raise $50. Asmus' Super Plungers included his wife, Carol, members of multiple law enforcement agencies and departments, and KHQ weather personality, Leslie Lowe, just to name a few.
While many on the Cop-Cicles team were members of Asmus' police force, other plungers were community members who took advantage of the close proximity of this year's Polar Plunge, which was moved to Liberty Lake from Medical Lake for the 2013 event. Eastern Washington University football players took part, as did teams from local businesses like Starbucks, H&R Block and others. About 200 plungers in all took part in the Saturday plunge.
Asmus also explained that his police department does a number of other fundraisers during the year to help Special Olympics, and many of them have the same element of fun (with a touch of crazy) to them.
Some of the fundraisers include:
Some ideas are being entertained for future fundraisers as well. Asmus said a short 5K event called Run from the Cops is being discussed. The idea behind it, Asmus said, is that his team could give participants a head start before the police try to catch them. Runners can get pledges to "bail" themselves out of jail in the event that they're "caught and apprehended."
Another event may include police officer's shadowing a server at a local restaurant for a "Tip A Cop" event.
Asmus said he is impressed with the generosity he's seen from the Liberty Lake community, and he knows that next year's plunge will be even bigger. He noted a number of businesses like Safeway, Albertsons, Papa Murphy's, Clark's Tire and Automotive and First Liberty Apartments were quick to donate to the cause when they learned about it.
The majority of the police department participated in some way to benefit Special Olympics this year, Asmus said. He believes the athletes recognize police officers as protectors, and many of them often face bullying, so the relationship with law enforcement has significant meaning.
"We're here to help those who can't always help themselves, and it's not something we, as police officers, get recognized for," Asmus said. "They (the athletes) always want a high-five or a hug - we don't typically get a lot of hugs as police officers."
For more information about how to get involved with local fundraisers, events or to donate, visit www.SpecialOlympicsWashington.org.