Polar Plunge special olympics freezin’ for a reason

students standing in front of polar plunge tank
Seniors Tom Blair and Rylan Zanon participate in the Polar Plunge in 2023. The Polar Plunge is an event to raise money for Special Olympics and the unified programs necessary equipment. The Polar Plunge association gets 65 percent and 35 percent goes to the Special Olympics.
Photo by Thomas Cass

The Polar Plunge is a big fundraiser that raises money for people with disabilities and the special olympics. It is scheduled to take place April 10 in the courtyard at the high school. There will be many students jumping and many watching to support. Last year, the Polar Plunge raised more than $21,000 with 35 percent going directly to the unified programs. They are designed to break down the barriers that separate those individuals with and without disabilities.

The Polar Plunge brings students together and the event allows people of all abilities to participate. Whether individuals plunge into the icy water themselves or support the event through fundraising or the modified plunge. There are opportunities for everyone to get involved, regardless of physical ability.

“It’s always a good feeling after getting out of the water knowing I did something for a good cause,” senior Trust Club President Cooper Howe said.

The modified Polar plunge is also a great fundraising event that includes everyone. Students who cannot physically jump into the freezing cold water have a small pool they throw swimming mermaids or figurines as their peers make the actual jump. This year sophomore Abigail Kowalski will jump with a cardboard cutout of Camryn Handberg’s head.  Camryn is a 10th grade student with intellectual and physical disabilities that prevent her from making the jump. Sophomore Ava Wilmes will be jumping with a cardboard cutout of sophomore Cathleen Costello’s head.

It’s always a good feeling after getting out of the water knowing I did something for a good cause.”

— Cooper Howe

“The fundraiser provides many more opportunities for different sports and it helps provide equipment and different things for special olympics and special olympic events,” Paraprofessional Lorrie Shortridge said.

This event serves as a platform to educate the public about the challenges faced by individuals with intellectual disabilities and the importance of creating inclusive communities. It helps raise awareness and promotes understanding and acceptance of diversity. Many participants form teams or groups to participate in the Polar Plunge together. These teams often consist of individuals with different abilities, promoting teamwork and a sense of belonging. For individuals with disabilities, participating in the Polar Plunge can be empowering. It provides them with an opportunity to challenge themselves, push their limits, and showcase their abilities in a supportive and inclusive environment.

“Watching the students with their partners and friends dressed up and jumping in and having so much fun and wanting to go again,” Unified gym teacher Paula Harrison talked about the excitement she sees when watching students jump for Special Olympics.

The Polar Plunge promotes inclusion by creating opportunities for participation, fostering community engagement, supporting inclusive organizations like Special Olympics, celebrating diversity and raising awareness about the importance of inclusion in society.

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