HICKORY N.C. – A friendly contest stretched stomachs and raised money for Special Olympics. Officers saddled up to the table Saturday afternoon for the Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Protect & Serve Barbecue Sandwich Showdown.

The showdown pitted officers Garrett Clark, Shane Bumgarner and Clay Albrecht from the Hickory Police Department against deputy sheriffs Jessica McCray, Adrain Parson and Trent Davis from the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office.

“The sheriff comes by every morning and sees me eating, and that’s how I got nominated,” McCray said. She put away two and a half sandwiches.

The goal, said Bumgarner, was to “eat as fast as possible and have a good time and don’t throw up.”

Thankfully, the competitors kept down the five pounds of barbecue they ate between them in a 10-minute span. Hickory’s officers out-ate the sheriff’s deputies by four quarter-pound chopped pork sandwiches, with the final score standing at 12-8.

Davis said he has a son with autism and a daughter with a heart condition, so supporting Special Olympics is personal for him. “Special-needs children and people are my favorite … There’s a special bond between law enforcement and Special Olympics and I just feel like it’s God sent,” he said.

Sheriff Coy Reid said his office’s work with Special Olympics dates to the 1980s, and support from law enforcement keeps Special Olympics going.

“It’ll touch your heart to see those kids giving it 110 percent,” he said of Special Olympics athletes.

Rob Dobson and his wife own Dickey’s. The restaurant donated 15 percent of its sales on Saturday to Special Olympics and held a gift card raffle with all the proceeds going to Special Olympics. After the competitors backed away from the table, he said the Hickory Fire Department challenged the Hickory Police Department to a showdown, which he expects to organize soon.

Dobson said the contest was a great way to help law enforcement support a great cause. He said he hopes to make the showdown an annual event, but with one change. “They said they wanted barbecue sauce, so maybe we’ll give them some sauce next year,” he said.

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