The Annual Chicago Polar Plunge took place on Sunday March 4th at North Avenue Beach. This year over 1,800 people plunged into Lake Michigan, well at least part of the way in, to benefit Special Olympics Chicago. The young and the old put on their best dress to strut their goodies for a good cause. Although the weather has been getting warmer, it sure was chilly in the water (38 degrees). Lest we forget, it would not be a Polar plunge without near freezing water temperatures. Warm water would take all the fun out of the fundraiser, right?
As always, this years proceeds from the Polar Plunge go right back to the Chicago Special Olympics athletes. This is how it works, one-person signs up on the event website http://www.firstgiving.com/specialolympicschicago and starts a team. Then all of their friends and coworkers are able to join their team. Each member is asked to raise money towards his or her plunge. In 2012, the Polar plunge alone raised over $560,000 for Special Olympics Chicago. Donations are still being collected at http://www.sochicago.org/. The money will be used to support the 5,000 Chicago land athletes. Cost includes training, travel, uniforms and everything else needed to help them achieve their Olympic goals.
This years highest earning plunger was Jennifer Kramer, who is the new President of the Special Olympics Chicago Board. This was her ninth year participating in the Polar Plunge and she was able to rack in over $34,110 for the cause. This marks an achievement of over $100,000 raised by Jennifer in her time with Special Olympics Chicago. Jennifer wrote to all her friends to inspire donations this year and here is just a sample of her words:
“Its been said that Special Olympics is humanitys greatest classroom. Lessons of ability, acceptance and inclusion are taught on the fields of competition by our greatest teachers, the athletes themselves. They practice and compete, and in turn I learn, grow and get inspired. I am passionate about Special Olympics. Not just because its a sports organization for people with disabilities, but because its a catalyst for social change.”
One For The Kids has been bestowed with the great honor of being connected with Special Olympics Chicago for the last 20 years. They are a major benefactor of our annual Golf Outing in August and amazing supporters of our mission. Every summer Special Olympians come and compete in our golf tournament to the cheers of a large, excited crowd. The Special Olympics is dear to many Chicagoans heart, since this is where it all began back in 1968.
The very first Special Olympics were hosted at Soldier Field in Chicago. Mayor Richard J. Daley was in attendance and was famously quoted as saying “The world will never be the same after this.” With the Annual Polar Plunge his message lives on. You are truly never the same after your first time dressed up in a duck suite running into freezing water for charity.