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Oceanside Police Department raises money for Special Olympics and its athletes

Posted at 10:27 AM, Aug 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-30 13:27:56-04

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (KGTV) – It’s a luau at the Oceanside Museum of Art for a great cause put on by the Oceanside Police Department -- raising money for Special Olympians.

“I’m responsible for the fundraising of the Special Olympics for the Oceanside Police Department. But, as I said, I get the community involved so it isn’t really just me,” said Oceanside Police Det. Chris James.

James said he took on this cause about five years ago.

“I got to do something. I got to shoot this out on social media and see what I can do. And when I did that, I ended up raising I think the first year was $2,700, and then the next year it was $6,800,” James said.

Some of the awesome athletes James has met along the way were on hand to help raise money and thank the community.

"And I won the gold medal in tennis,” said Special Olympian Heidi Sand.

"Just knowing that I can do the best that I can,” added Special Olympian Ryan Derletch.

While raising all of that money, James said the interesting bond he’s formed with Special Olympians like Derletch and Sand is not like any other bond.

“Working and connecting with James is pretty awesome. Knowing that I can trust, you know, to go into Oceanside, l know who I can rely on if I need help,” Derletch said.

“I’ve been on two ride-alongs with him. It’s been fun. So, I can maybe … think maybe to join the police station,” Sand said.

“You hang out around Special Olympians and, not only are they overwhelmingly innocent, they just want to have a good time and they’re always positive,” James said. “And they don’t care about any disability they may have. Because they’re all about competing and participating like everyone else.”

And to see everyone else support the athletes James has bonded with is special for them.

“It touches my heart sometimes when I see this going on,” James said.

“It would show us that we are dedicated to what we stand for and what Special Olympics is truly about,” Derletch said.

A community coming together showing another bond towards these athletes.

“I think it speaks volumes about the community. It shows that they’re generous, that they care about everybody no matter what you look like or no matter what you may struggle with; that everybody cares about you and you’re in it together. And it’s a big team,” James said.

James told ABC 10News the community’s help has also allowed them to raise more money for Special Olympics than all of the other law enforcement agencies in San Diego County.