On Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, several Quincy University students participated in an event known as the Polar Plunge.
Polar Plunges are events sponsored through the Special Olympics organization to raise awareness and funding for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
“Basically a Polar Plunge is an event that raises money for Special Olympics, and then the people who fundraise jump into a freezing cold lake,” sophomore Ashley Doellman said.
The Illinois division of the Special Olympics sponsors 22 plunges across the state. This particular event was held at Moorman Park Lake in Quincy, IL and took place around noon.
Participants in the Quincy plunge received a complimentary sweatshirt as well as a wristband. The event was sponsored by local businesses and organizations including Zoup, Quincy Medical Group, and Krazy Cakes.
“It’s nice seeing the community come together to support such a noble cause such as Special Olympics,” Doellman said.
According to the Special Olympics website, event participants are required to raise at least $100 by the day of the event in order to take the plunge. Individuals who donate $250 or more are eligible to win gifts and prizes.
Members of Quincy University’s chapter of Phi Sigma Sigma, a national sorority, volunteer for Special Olympics on behalf of its philanthropy efforts.
Sophie Downey, a sophomore, is a member of Phi Sigma Sigma and said that each member raised $100 to donate to Special Olympics and to participate in the event. If members were unable to attend the event, they asked a friend to jump in their place, but still raised money for the cause.
“I asked family members and friends via social media and texting or calling to donate in my honor through the Special Olympics website,” Downey said.
Other methods of fundraising include creating GoFundMe pages or donating directly to the Special Olympics website.
“It (the Polar Plunge) funds events for the members of Special Olympics and it helps with other costs and funding the members or their families may have,” Downey said.
All of the money raised for the events goes to sponsoring athletic events for the individuals involved with Special Olympics. According to its website, the funds raised from Polar Plunges benefit nearly 22,000 Special Olympic athletes in the state of Illinois alone.
The Quincy Polar Plunge generated a total of $9,350 and had 229 participants. Participants also included individuals from other nearby colleges, such as Culver-Stockton.
Culver-Stockton student, James Heisse has participated in the Polar Plunge for two consecutive years.
“A good friend of mine mentioned the event to me, and once I found out more about it, it immediately caught my interest so I decided to do it,” Heisse said. “It’s a very small thing I can do that will have an important impact on Special Olympic athletes.”
There are still three more Polar Plunge events taking place during the month of March, and individuals interested in donating or participating can find out more by visiting the Special Olympics’ website.
“I chose to take the plunge because I love donating and making a positive difference, and it sounded fun to me. Being freezing cold wasn’t very fun, but I know it was for something good,” Downey said.