Officer Ted Rutt has been a police officer with Tukwila Police Department for the last 20 years. As we all know, the police officer's motto is "To Protect and Serve." Ted Rutt takes the "Serve" part of that motto very seriously. Since he was a teenager helping out in his mother's in-home daycare, Officer Rutt has felt a desire to make serving his community and working with Special Olympics of Washington his very personal and public campaigns.
Not only has he donated his time, but he has been the heart and soul of most every Special Olympics fundraising effort in the Tukwila area for the past 30 years. As a teenager, Officer Rutt volunteered to help out with Special Olympics events in his home town of Olympia as often as his schedule would allow, and now, as a Community Police Officer, he has been able to organize and carry out much larger and more celebrated events. Some of these fundraisers are a part of the larger Special Olympics of Washington's annual campaigns such as the Red Robin and Claim Jumper Tip-a-Cops. This event has usually involved a few local officers and athletes as they walk throughout the restaurants and ask diners to donate to the SOWA effort, but Officer Rutt has turned his Tip-a-Cops into a fun-filled evening that community members look forward to. He brings in not only the local police officers, but the Police Explorers, fire-fighters, Fire Explorers and SOWA athletes as well. Customers can donate money and have their fellow diners and/or family members "arrested" and have their picture taken with an officer in front of a police vehicle. Every so often, even one or more of the officers are "arrested" as well. He lets kids sit in the police cars and flash the lights for a memory that will last and last. For the past couple of years, Officer Rutt has almost single-handedly organzied "The World's Largest Truck Convoy" for Special Olympics. Truckers from all over can donate $100 or more to be a part of this awesome event that takes the long line of trucks from the Tacoma Dome parking lot to either Chehalis or Tukwila. He gets restaurants to donate coffee, tea, rolls, muffins and/or doughnuts in the morning, then he helps to provide a hugh BBQ lunch when everyone arrives at the end point. Every trucker is paired with a Special Olympics athlete who rides in the cab for the entire convoy. He has local businesses donate gift certificates, goods, or services and raffles them off at the BBQ to raise even more money. His goal this year is to have the largest Truck Convoy in the United States with over 150 trucks. Officer Rutt just climbed down off the roof of the Issaquah Krispy Kreme Doughnuts for the annual "Cops on Doughnut Shops" fundraiser. He sits on the roof for three days straight, asking customers for donations and handing out coupons for free doughnuts or ice cream cones.
Some of Officer Rutt's fundraising events are things he comes up with himself and turns into a reality. He has bowled for over 72 hours at Tukwila's Acme Bowl, mixed ice cream and toppings at Cold Stone Creamery, spoken at Elks' and Lions' Clubs, and arranged a Valentine's Day Polar Bear Plunge to name only a few. In 2003, he was chosen as one of 50 police officers in the United States to help run the Special Olympics torch from Athens, Greece to Belfast, Ireland. He was put on a team with nine other officers and athletes from around the world. Throughout the different countries in which he found himself, he and his team would run the torch around the cities, then stop and talk to the supporters who were there about Special Olympics. He also puts together the torch run for Special Olympics of Washington every May as officers run the torch from the Peace Arch to McCord Air Force Base for the Opening Ceremonies. Officer Rutt's enthusiasm for this cause has never wavered, and his excitement has actually caused more and more people to volunteer with him every year.
Along with Officer Ted Rutt's love of Special Olympics is his love of the community that he serves. He has taught the DARE Program in the Tukwila School District for 18 years, and because of his devotion to these students and their families, he is able to develop long-term relationships that carry on past high-school graduation. Often he will get a call from a former student who needs help and will only talk to him. These students trust and respect him because they know he will trust and respect them as well. He will often help out classes, schools, or families in need by setting up local McDonald's fundraisers or asking local businesses to donate what they can to help. He has provided grieving families with funeral costs, allowed classes of low income/high risk students go on that amazing field trip they didn't think they'd be able to afford, or provided security services for free so the high school could have their homecoming dance.
Every year, Officer Rutt puts together the most awesome DARE Graduation for the fifth graders who have gone through the program in the fall. He gets the kids DARE shirts, certificates, and bags of DARE memorabilia in honor of their graduation. He has motivational speakers such as Tony Ventrella, Steve Pool, and retired PLU football coach Frosty Westering come talk to the students about the importance of making good choices and staying in school. He puts pictures to music and ends the graduation with a surprise slide show of the students and their classes throughout the year. It is an event that these kids talk about into their adult years.
When Officer Ted Rutt decided many years ago to go into policing, he knew that he would see things that would make him mad, make him cry and make him smile. He knew that he would be involved in many things that would cause him to question his choice. What he didn't realize is how much of a positive impact he could and would have on the lives of the people in the Tukwila community and in the lives of the many Special Olympics athletes he works with all the time. When asked why he does what he does, he will look somewhat sheepish and say it is what anyone would do. Not anyone, Officer Rutt, YOU!