ROCKLAND, Maine — Seven police officers and one first responder walked into a Tim Hortons doughnut shop Thursday — and kicked powdered sugar in the face of one of the country’s most enduring stereotypes.
Once again, none of the officers won the second annual Law Enforcement Donut Eating Contest, a title that was carried away on the massive shoulders of Justin Hills of Camden First Aid.
Whoever eats six doughnuts the fastest wins the contest, which is designed to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics of Maine.
Hills, who stands at 6 feet 7 inches and weighs “a little over” 350 pounds, made it look easy as he gracefully gulped six doughnuts in just 2 minutes, 27 seconds.
“I think the sugar’s hit me, because I’m a little jittery,” Hills said just after his gastronomical endeavor.
But the sugar rush didn’t prevent him from remembering why he was there in the first place.
“I go up and attend the Special Olympics in Orono in the summer,” Hills said. “I think it’s something great that we should be supporting, whether it’s with money or time.”
Last year, the inaugural contest earned a little less than $200 for the nonprofit agency, a sum that may be tripled this year, according to Officer Troy Peasley of the Rockland Police Department. A donations jar at Tim Hortons raised more than $130 at the scene, and the snazzy red T-shirts that advertised the event were selling briskly for the bargain price of $10. About 30 were available Thursday evening, Peasley said.
“This raises a lot of awareness, and it’s good [public relations],” he said.
That was clear from the packed restaurant, which echoed with laughter, applause and cheers during the three competitions — among law enforcement, among six Special Olympians and then among three owners or managers of Tim Hortons restaurants in Maine.
“Gulp that doughnut, Daddy,” loudly demanded Jethro Pease, 4, of his father, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency Regional Supervisor James Pease. “Gulp that doughnut!”
Pease tried his best to beat the Hills juggernaut, but his method of dunking the doughnuts in water before stuffing them into his mouth apparently backfired.
“It went wrong,” Pease said after the contest was over. “I think I got clogged up … I’ve got to redo my strategy.”
Rep. Ed Mazurek, D-Rockland, presented plaques to the winners and could barely keep the smile from his face.
“This was tremendous,” he said. “A great effort, and what a great crowd it’s for.”
Stephanie Stalter, 16, cheered on the officers and talked about her Special Olympics experiences with soccer, swimming, bowling and track and field. Her favorite parts are being with friends and meeting new people, she said.
“I think it’s really good of them to come out and support this,” she said.