COLLINSVILLE - The Collinsville Police Department is hosting its eighth annual 5K to support Special Olympics Illinois, but there’s a sweet, sprinkled twist.

The 5K Run/Walk begins at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 29. Registration and packet pick-up begins at 6 a.m. that day.

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There will be three donut stops along the race route. The donuts are encouraged but not mandatory, so contestants can decide whether to forgo the stops and keep running, or eat a donut and shave one minute off their overall time.

“We were trying to find something that was a little different than your normal 5K, so we’re kind of making fun of the stereotype of police and donuts,” Trent Ross, a Collinsville police officer and the race organizer, said.

Ross works closely with Special Olympics Illinois. He wanted this fundraiser to help the organization and connect the community with the police department. Special Olympics is an important part of Ross’s life, and his experience volunteering with the organization has helped him navigate difficulties in his line of work.

“This is one of the things I got into early in my career because there is obviously a lot of negativity that we see on a daily basis,” Ross explained. “So Special Olympics is kind of my rejuvenating event throughout the year.”

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A lot of people seem to agree. The 5K is now in its eighth year, and there are usually around 150 runners who dress up in fun costumes to munch on donuts and enjoy their run or walk on a sunny Saturday morning.

Ross especially loves to see his fellow police officers join in on the fun. Snacking and running alongside each other, these officers and community members are able to connect.

“It’s really nice to see the local law enforcement agents come out for this event and run, as well as a nice opportunity to have them intermingle with community members that we don’t always see on a daily basis, create those community bonds,” Ross said.

Runners are usually divided on whether or not to eat the donuts, he added. The first donut stop is the most popular, but by the time contestants reach the final stop in sight of the finish line, they’re faced with a donut dilemma: Save the extra minute, or sprint to the end (and the water) waiting for them?

On July 29, you can choose for yourself. Click here to sign up for the Collinsville Police Department’s 5-O 5K Donut Run/Walk, or check out the event on Facebook to learn more. Proceeds go to Special Olympics Illinois. And for Ross, that’s the sweetest part of all.

“This is why I got the job, you know? These are the people we’re here to assist. This is what makes it all worth it, just creating the bonds with athletes, the volunteers, coaches,” Ross said. “It’s just a phenomenal experience.”

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