Yesterday I participated in my 3rd Polar Plunge, to benefit Special Olympics Illinois.
What started 3 years ago as a daring venture with co-workers to raise a little money for a good cause has, for me, turned into much more. As a parent of a Special Olympian said to me yesterday, what we do gives voice to what those who don't have a strong voice of their own know about the importance of Special Olympics. I'm thrilled to be able to do such a thing, despite the insanity it takes to submerge myself in an ice covered lake.
The weather was the best we've had in my 3-year tenure. Sunny and not much wind.
The water was cold as ever. Despite near 40 degree weather there was LOTS of ice on the lake.
This year, I raised more money than I have before: over $4,000.
While this earned me the Silver Plunger award for the second highest individual total at our plunge site, it is to the donors, the hard fundraising work of my team and the movement of Special Olympics that the glory goes.
To say that being a part of a group that has raised over $100,000 in the past 3 years for Special Olympics is humbling would be an understatement. I just read online that the plunges this year have raised over $500,000 for the Illinois athletes. I can't think of a more deserving cause or group who needs the awareness and money that these events generate.
The mission of Special Olympics is stated as this: "Through the power of sport, Special Olympics strives to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people." I've said it before, I don't think a value can be placed upon the experiences and lessons Special Olympics offers to the children and families with whom I work.
Eight of my students medaled at a Special Olympics swim meet the day before we plunged.
I saw a picture of one who medaled whom I have known since she was 3 years old. I was as proud of her as I can only imagine her parents were. A year ago, she couldn't swim and was afraid to let go of the wall of a pool. Now, she has advanced to the state games. I think of who this little girl was at the age of 3, and who she is now...I'm so proud of her.
Thank you again to everyone who donated to the Polar Plunge. Your money is going out into our communities to support the amazing and life changing work of the Special Olympics movment.