Polar Plunge raises thousands for Illinois Special Olympics
Donning a pair of Daisy Dukes and the Greek letter Chi on his chest in body paint, Kaleb Whipple submerged himself in the frigid waters of Campus Lake during the Special Olympics Polar Plunge Saturday.
Whipple, a junior from Galatia studying marketing and a member of Chi Sigma Chi, said Polar Plunge is a good cause to donate time to and a fun event to participate in.
The Plunge, which had more than 200 costumed participants this year, is sponsored by many campus organizations such as the SIUC chapter of Chi Sigma Chi and the SIUC American Marketing Association.
For the first annual Campus Lake Polar Plunge last year, Chi Sigma Chi raised more than $3,500 for the cause, said Nick Langhauser, a senior from Carlyle studying management and the rush chairman for Chi Sigma Chi.
He said this year, after the chapter donated $500, the fraternity raised more than $1,000 for the cause.
Jo Dodd, area director for the Special Olympics’ Illinois Area 15, said it’s great to have the Plunge on campus because of the support received from the student body, faculty and staff.
“We couldn’t do it without the support of all the sponsors and the community,” she said. “It takes a lot of combined effort, so we’re really thankful for all those who raise funds for the cause.”
Taking the initiative to raise funds as a student can be time consuming but rewarding.
John Schumacher, a senior from Arlington Heights studying public relations and public relations director for the SIUC American Marketing Association, said he decided to raise funds and awareness through various sources.
Schumacher, who started with a donation from his father and himself, created a Facebook event and asking for $1 donations and invited 45 friends and family members.
He said by doing this, many donated more than $1 and he actually raised $150, which is double the minimum donation of $75.
Schumacher said River Radio and CIL-FM helped to promote the event and also donated in exchange for putting their logos on the event sweatshirts given to each participant.
“I love the event because all the money goes to Special Olympics Illinois,” Schumacher said. “Events like this are more satisfying because the money stays in the local Illinois community and the Special Olympics is an amazing initiative that deserves all the help in the world.”
With 20 different plunges in various locations this season, Polar Plunge is a statewide Special Olympics fundraiser sponsored by the Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run, Linda Wunder, area supervisor, said.
Last year, the Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run raised more than $2.9 million for Special Olympics Illinois, setting the record for the highest-grossing Torch Run in the world.
This year, the Plunge in Carbondale raised about $31,000, Wunder said.
“The money that we raise from the Plunge helps us fund our competitions and training for individuals that participate in Special Olympics,” Wunder said. “Obviously, not everything is free. In order to keep our costs down and not charge any of our athletes, we do need funding.”