Ain’t No Rockwall High Enough

NJSPBA Locals take on the Climb for Special Olympics

Members of Brick Local 230 join with kids from the township in Climb with a Cop.

Law enforcement officers are constantly overcoming obstacles in their work, having to climb over barriers to feel heard. Just as officers are having to fight an uphill battle some days, so are Special Olympics athletes in New Jersey.

To show their support for the Special Olympics of New Jersey, Upper Saddle River Local 218, Brick Township Local 230, Middletown Township Local 124, Hazlet Township Local 189, Bergen County Sheriff’s Local 134, Raritan Local 82, and Hunterdon County Local 188

all participated in Climb with a Cop on Feb. 11. Venues for this fundraiser that continues to reach new heights included Gravity Vault Indoor Rock Gyms in Upper Saddle River, Hoboken, Chatham, Flemington, Middletown, Vorhees and Brick.

Just as officers are responsible for keeping the public safe every day, they’re also responsible for protecting the climbers, acting as the “belay,” or person responsible for anchoring the climber as they make it up the wall.

Local 218 State Delegate Anthony Pullizzano came up with the idea for Climb with A Cop six years ago after learning more about Special Olympics and specifically the Law Enforcement Torch Run.

“Basically I got hooked when I heard New Jersey is the only state where we raise enough money so the families don’t have to pay a dime for the athletes to compete in the Special Olympics,” he said.

From then on, Pullizzano knew there had to be something that Local 218 could do to support the cause, and so Climb With A Cop was born.

“If it wasn’t for him planting a seed and really keeping his hands involved with it, I don’t think we would’ve been as big as we are,” added Local 124 State Delegate Anthony Dellatacoma, whose Local has taken part in Climb with a Cop for the past few years.

Members of Upper Saddle River Local 218 combined with kids from the community to participate in Climb with a Cop and raise money for Special Olympics NJ.

Throughout its six years, the event has grown in popularity, with 74 climbers participating this year alone. What makes Climb with a Cop successful isn’t just the chance to be adventurous, but ultimately a chance to connect with local law enforcement.

“You know, personally I think it’s just the interaction with the community. So they love coming and meeting their local cops,” Dellatacoma explained.

Climb with a Cop has become an event that everyone looks forward to because the community gets to have those one-on-one conversations while supporting the cause. Even Special Olympic athletes themselves make appearances. And helping these athletes achieve the climb is what it’s about for the PBA/

“They’ve been dealt a tough hand in life, and their families deal with a lot,” Pullizzano said. “It’s a very stressful way to raise a child, and the fact that we can help them and bring some relief is a homerun for us.”

In total, Climb with a Cop raised $43,000 for the Special Olympics this year, proving that there is no wall too high to climb and no obstacle too big to overcome to help kids with special needs.