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Taking the plunge: UIS students participate in Polar Plunge to raise money for Special Olympics

Taking the plunge: UIS students participate in Polar Plunge to raise money for Special Olympics

Running into a freezing cold lake two days after it snows sounds like a good idea, right? Maybe, maybe not, but raising money prior to diving in makes the idea much more sensible.

Friends, family members, workers and other community members came together to sprint into chilly Lake Springfield at the Knights of Columbus Hall last Saturday to raise money for the Illinois Special Olympics.

There are three steps to participating in the Polar Plunge: register, raise money and run into a frigid lake.

Each participant of the Polar Plunge had to raise at least $75 to take the jump and receive a complimentary plunge sweatshirt.

The plunge had 51 teams register for the event. These teams included 308 participants, all dressed in different costumes and attire. This is 33 more participants than last year.

Alex Fruth, a sophomore at UIS, participated in the plunge for the first time this year. He raised a total of $118. “I decided to plunge because I watched my brother plunge before and it seemed like something I would like to do,” said Fruth. “Once I found out it actually raised money for the Special Olympics was when I was really set on doing the plunge. I have volunteered before for Special Olympics and I think it’s a great organization.”

The Leadership for Life (L4L) program raised money for Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, to participate in the event. If they reached $75, Dochterman would take the plunge. Determined to raise more than $75, L4L set a goal of $150, and they achieved it.

Some members of the UIS women’s soccer team took part in the plunge as well. Their team raised about $1,325.

“We did the Polar Plunge as kind of a team bonding thing as well as to help out the Special Olympics,” said Emily DeLong, member of the UIS women’s soccer team. “I was unable to plunge because I have been really sick, but I was there supporting my team as they were in the water. Everyone seemed really excited to take part in the plunge, and it was great to see my team all together and having a blast.”

In 2012, the Springfield plunge brought in over $57,700. This year, the plunge surpassed that amount, collecting over $64,000.

The Polar Plunge in Springfield is one of 20 being held throughout the state, and one of seven that was held on Feb. 23. The event is the creation of the Law Enforcement Torch Run. All of the money raised will go directly to the 21,000 athletes who participate in the Illinois Special Olympics.

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