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Window Paintings Benefit Special Olympics

Courant Community

Volunteers spruced up the windows at Bertucci's Restaurant, in Avon, with painted holiday scenes, part of an effort to raise money for Connecticut Special Olympics.

Diners paid a dollar fee to cast a vote for best window.

Erin Connole, a sergeant with the Avon Police Department, led the Dec. 3 at Bertucci's. In October, Connole and police officers from the Avon and Simsbury police departments held a Cop-on-Top competition.

During the October fundraiser for Special Olympics, Connole and her fellow officers spent hours aloft in a hook and ladder bucket, at Simsbury Commons. The buckets were lowered hourly based on the number of cash donations.

The Simsbury department was declared the winner. However, heavy winds and rain cut short the event.

In the end, the departments raised $1,500 for Special Olympics, a cause close to Connole and her family. Her cousin takes part in Special Olympics' activities.

Connole hopes painting Bertucci's windows will be an annual event.

"We had artists from all over paint their windows," she said.

A table was set up inside the restaurant, where customers dropped their ballots off.

Bertucci's also held a 'Dollar for Dining' program, where a percentage of the diner's bill went to Special Olympics.

"It's great to see everyone out here for a great event, having so much fun, and getting into the holiday spirit," Connole said.

She has watched her cousin compete over the years. The two regularly do Penguin Plunge events - icy dips in midwinter.

She added law enforcement across the country remains committed to Special Olympics.

By 11 a.m., the windows began to fill with holiday themes, snowmen, gingerbread villages, and candy canes. Olivia, 11, of Granby, painted a Christmas tree surrounded by penguins.

"A friend invited me and I thought it would be fun to do," she said, as she raced toward the 1 p.m. deadline. "Special Olympics is important to me because my cousin swims in it."

A few windows down, Aairah, 11, was halfway through painting a gingerbread house and a family to go with it.

"It feels good because people are going to see it," she said.

Gingerbread reminds her of the holidays.

Special Olympics was the main reason for Aairah to paint a window.

"It's decorating for a good cause," she said.

Daniel McClure Whiting, a Special Olympian, painted the window near the restaurant's entrance. He helped collect donations at Cop-on-Top in October. He will be competing in floor hockey in the Connecticut Winter Special Olympics, in January.

He thanked the volunteers for spending their Sunday with him.

"They did a good job here. We need money for the games," he said. "I care and support them (Special Olympics)."

To donate to Connecticut Special Olympics or to learn more about the organization, visit www.soct.org.

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