Niles police Polar Plunge

Niles police officers prepare to walk into Lake Michigan for the 2013 Polar Plunge, one of the Law Enforcement Torch Run fundraising events to benefit Special Olympics Illinois. (Niles Police Department, Handout / March 2, 2013)

It may not be gold in Sochi Games, but the Niles Police Department is celebrating a top-10 finish in Special Olympics fundraising.

The near northwest suburban police department ranked 10th in fundraising for the 2013 Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run, according to Special Olympics Illinois officials.

The department raised $24,739.25 through the various Torch Run fundraising campaigns, which includes the well-known annual Polar Plunge into the chilly waters of Lake Michigan.

"We have always been a strong supporter of Special Olympics and we encourage our officers to be involved in these charitable events," Niles police Chief Dean Strzelecki said in a release. "All of their time and effort really paid off last year."

Various law enforcement agencies from across the state participate in Torch Run events, and have done so for nearly 30 years, officials with Special Olympics Illinois said.

Last year, the Maple Park Police Department took the top fundraising spot, raking in a little more than $63,000 for Special Olympics.

Crestwood police, the Illinois State Police, Chicago police and Tinley Park police departments round out the top five.

Niles' neighbors, Park Ridge, came in at 18th place with about $20,000 raised in 2013.

"I love that both the Law Enforcement Torch Run officers and our Special Olympics athletes are both very competitive," Special Olympics Illinois President Dave Breen said in an emailed statement.

"Departments like the Niles (police department) are trying to do a little more each year so we can do more each year - reaching more children and adults with intellectual disabilities in Illinois with our programs," he continued. "They are truly helping us to transform lives." | Twitter: @jbtribune