Polar Plunge for a heartwarming cause

Story by Luke Miltz, Guest Writer

The Polar Plunge is a nationwide fundraiser for the Special Olympics and on March 7, for the first time ever, Douglas County will have its own Plunge at the University of Kansas in Naismith Hall, and you are invited to participate. Participants will plunge into freezing water to raise both money and awareness of the cause. 2014 Baker University Polar Plunge team.Submitted photo

I have participated in the Topeka Polar Plunge for four years. For the first three, I participated with a team made up of a group of both naturally developing and intellectually disabled students, and last year, I plunged with the first-ever Baker University Polar Plunge team. This year, I was asked to be on the committee to plan the Lawrence Polar Plunge, to solicit corporate sponsorship and to recruit plungers.

Participation in the Polar Plunge is an incredibly rewarding experience. A portion of the money goes, of course, to the Kansas State Special Olympics office, which funds and facilitates competitions, events and outreach for athletes with special needs. The other portion goes directly to teams, which allows coaches and organizers to purchase equipment, etc. for athletes.

As a participant, you can plunge individually, but most people form teams of their friends to make the event more fun. Team members then approach friends and family members asking for donations, which the Special Olympics makes extremely easy by creating a website for each participant as part of registration. This website can be shared through social media and email, allowing donors to give online using a credit card, in addition to using cash or check.

On plunge day, teams come dressed in everything from wetsuits to coconut bras, ready to jump into the freezing cold water. If the idea of jumping into cold water makes you cringe, don’t worry, teams need people there who support them (and also who will hold their phone and warm, dry clothes). I won’t lie, the plunge is cold, but the cause is incredibly heartwarming.

To register, go to the Support Us page, and find the Lawrence Polar Plunge, and join or register a team. Feel free to contact me with any questions about the organization, donations or how to form/join a team at [email protected].