Top of the Morning, May 29, 2014
Early Friday morning, University of Illinois police Officer Beth Visel will climb to the roof of Dunkin' Donuts in Champaign for a good cause. And a good view.
"Wow, has it changed over the years," the 2003 Champaign Central High grad said. "There are so many high-rises on campus and downtown that were not there as I grew up in Champaign. All the construction going on is amazing to see."
It's the second year in a row Visel is participating in "Cop on a Rooftop," which has officers from Champaign, Rantoul and Urbana elevating to raise funds for the Law Enforcement Run to benefit Special Olympics Illinois. She'll be perched high above Neil Street in time for rush hour. If you can't stop by to donate — and score a coupon for a free pastry — at least give her a honk. It's a long morning.
"Between smiling and waving at cars, talking with people on the ground and trying to convince other officers to climb the dreaded ladder to the rooftop, there's not time to be bored," she said. "Sometimes it can be difficult to hear what people are saying over the car horns as people donate and drive past."
Visel admits to feeling "butterflies" atop the roof, but the benefits — the statewide event has raised $1.6 million in 11 years — are too good to pass up.
The cause "is a passion of mine," Visel said. Even with all the crazy looks she gets.
"My favorite was a van full of kids," she said. "One young boy happened to look up from the passenger seat and saw me waving. He jumped back in the seat and pointed, and the next thing I knew, there were four or five young faces pointing at me with faces full of amazement and awe.
"Or they thought I was crazy for being on the roof, but I choose to believe the former."