The guy in the white pickup was walking out of the Chick-fil-A restaurant, full and happy, when he heard, “Hey you! Stop right there!”
He wheeled in a heartbeat, his lips formed the words, “What the...?” and then he saw it – two police officers under a tent with a bucket collecting money for Special Olympics.
Then he spied, on the roof of the Dave Lyle Boulevard store in front of the Rock Hill Galleria, the culprits. A pair of not-so-surreptitious cops on the roof, using a microphone and speaker to call out to people and ask them to give some change or a buck or two.
Then the sneaks drop a bucket on a rope to collect.
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The scoundrels with good intentions, deputies Jamie Faulkenberry and Carson Neely from the York County Sheriff’s Office, chuckled when the guy said: “You scared the @#$%^& out of me.”
The guy chuckled and gave. A little razzing from airborne cops was worth it so area Special Olympics athletes can have training programs and put on annual games.
Many gave something.
College kids from York Tech and Winthrop University with no money to spare gave all their spare change and bills.
An astonished lady in a red Lexus that cost a lot gave a handful of money.
A lady in a BMW gave a dollar.
Burly workers gave fistfuls of money.
With so many officers around, most people realized that the rooftop antics, and the patrolmen from the S.C. Transport Police and Highway Patrol, and Tega Cay, too, were just raising money for a good cause.
“One guy, he stopped and asked just what was going on; he was a little worried about what was going on,” said Rock Hill Police Department Det. Phil Tripp, one of the organizers. “He left, then circled back. He dropped in $20.
“He was a combat veteran. Said he just got back from Iraq. That’s the kind of people we have around here – great.”
In 2010, when the officers from area departments who do an annual Special Olympics Torch Run fundraiser banded together to do the rooftop the first time, more than $6,000 was raised.
This week – through 2:30 p.m. Thursday at the Dave Lyle restaurant, and from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday at both the Dave Lyle and Cherry Road restaurants – their goal is to beat the 2010 total and help promote Special Olympics.
Walmart, behind them in the mall, donated $1,000, and several lawyers who deal with cops all the time gave big bucks, too.
And because these are cops, they are bold and brash, bellowing from the rooftop.
The view from up there is across the busy road and takes in nearby businesses and parking lots – so no one is safe.
“Hey you, at the ATM, come on over here,” called out Faulkenberry to a truly clueless bank customer across the street. “Yes, you. Come on!”
An Army soldier named Guy Kyle, 21, pulled up and took out all his extra money and tucked it into the bucket.
“I come from a military family, too, and police, soldiers – we are all about the same, serving,” Kyle said. “This is a good cause.”
Kyle had been a bit taken aback, however, when Faulkenberry and Neely had called out, “Stop that truck!”
“Nobody likes to see a bunch of police and hear that,” laughed Kyle.
No entertainer need worry. The cops on the roof are armed with weapons, badges and good will – but it is clear that both Faulkenberry and Neely won’t be quitting their day jobs any time soon.
The singing is awful – the jokes even worse.
“Look up here – no, it is not a bird or a plane,” yelled out Neely when he took a turn. A quiet lady saw what was going on and dropped in her money with a smile.
“I thought the old joke was the cops were at the doughnut shop,” she muttered.
No, this week it is the roof of a chicken restaurant where the cops are found.