University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point faculty services is taking the plunge in the 2014 Polar Plunge to support Special Olympics Wisconsin.
The Polar Plunge is Special Olympics Wisconsin’s annual winter fundraiser that gives a chance for community members to be “freezin’ for a reason.”
“It’s a unique opportunity for brave Wisconsinites to support Special Olympics athletes by plunging into icy bodies of water,” said Alyssa Matelski, the regional director of development for Special Olympics Wisconsin.
Plungers consist of individuals and teams of all ages, and money is raised through participant’s pledges and corporate sponsorships. In order to take the plunge, each person must raise a minimum of $75.
“Money raised from the Polar Plunge stays in North Central Wisconsin to support sports training and competition for the one thousand local Special Olympics athletes,” Matelski said.
People who want to help raise money but are not fond of getting wet can also participate by registering as “Too Chicken to Plunge.”
“There will also be other activities including concession and souvenir sales and the Spicy Tie Band will be performing,” Matelski said.
Eva Hathaway, team leader for UWSP facility services, will be participating for her seventh year in a row.
“It’s just something I’ve always done. I started a team with my husband and friend, and a few of my co-workers were interested, so we decided to make it the facility services team,” Hathaway said.
Sam Schwanebeck, a former UWSP student, is part of the UWSP facility team along with Tana De Lonay and both will be participating for their first time.
“My coworker Eva Hathaway has been doing it for a few years now and got me to do it this year,” Schwanebeck said. “I’m looking forward to jumping in the water, and I think that the Special Olympics is a great cause to help out with.”
De Lonay is also excited and thinks that it is a great event for a great cause.
“I am honored to represent the campus and create solidarity with my co-workers in uniting for this wonderful event,” De Lonay said.
The Polar Plunge not only raises money for Special Olympics athletes and programs but also helps raise awareness about Special Olympics and people with intellectual disabilities.
“I used to substitute in the Stevens Point School District and worked in Special Education frequently, and having conversations with other teachers about the staggering costs was eye-opening,” De Lonay said. “Hopefully our jump will be able to off-set at least a part of that.”
Hathaway agrees, saying that she has seen the Special Olympics take place in Stevens Point and thinks it is a good charity and cause for helping athletes.
“It brings people together as a support system for people who might not get that chance otherwise. I know the money is going where they say because it’s a reliable charity and a big part of the community,” Hathaway said.
“Every year it’s amazing the amount of people that attend the event as spectators and plungers. It’s fun to see the first time plungers and the teams that are plunging in honor of a Special Olympic Athlete,” Matelski said. “All the creative costumes are definitely a highlight of the event; it feels like Halloween in February.”