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Police, athletes team for fundraiser

| Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ryan Bolla was an honorary employee of the Red Robin Gourmet Burgers restaurant in Robinson on Saturday, and he beamed as he greeted customers.

"This is great," said Bolla, 23, of Elliott in Pittsburgh's West End, as he wore the restaurant chain's red shirt and a name tag. "The people are giving me tips!"

Bolla is an athlete with the Allegheny County Special Olympics Team, a member of a 5-on-5 basketball team. He and other athletes teamed with Pittsburgh police officers at three Red Robin locations to raise money for the Western Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

From noon to 3 p.m., and again from 5 to 8 p.m., the athletes and officers greeted customers at the Robinson, Cranberry, Butler County and South Hills Village locations.

Servers handed out special envelopes to diners, who could put donations inside and give them to the athletes and officers. Outside the Robinson location, Sgt. Eric Churilla and Officer Ray Kain were helping children hop onto a police motorcycle and pose for pictures or climb inside a police patrol car and activate the lights and sirens.

"This is a lot of fun because the police and athletes are really involving the community and everyone seems excited," said Cristin Boyle, manager of the Robinson Red Robin. "This is for a great cause."

Boyle said she initially gave each of the 12 servers working the afternoon shift seven donation envelopes, and each had run out and asked for more by 1:30 p.m.

"This is great," Churilla said. "Anything we can do to help out, we're there."

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