On Friday, February 25, Special Olympics sponsored a Polar Plunge fundraiser at Avonworth high school.
The Polar Plunge’s goal was to raise money for Special Olympics Pennsylvania. This was a state-wide event, from Friday the 25th through Saturday the 26th, with Plunges taking place across PA. Notable demonstrations took place in front of Heinz Field, where close to 1,500 people took the dive with the goal of raising $450,000 for Special Olympics Pennsylvania.
At AHS, students and facility paid $10 to jump into the frigid water, and $35 to jump and get a t-shirt as a memento of their dive. This is the second time this event has run at AHS, however, there was a notable difference between the first and second years.
The drastic drop-in participation in the Plunge over the course of two short years, to some, can be equated to the already frigid weather. “100% yes, and we did not really advertise it as much this year… last year [there were] announcements, emails. This year it was because of the cold weather I would say.” said senior Lois Bennett, a member of the Special Olympics club and student helper on the Bocce team. Bennett has been in Special Olympics since her freshman year.
On the day of the Plunge, participants and bystanders could expect actual temperatures at a freezing 32*F with a real feel of 23*F. It seemed like being outside that day was more than enough of a Plunge in-and-of-itself.
Due to its low turnout, this year’s fundraiser was very limited, with last year’s Plunge being far more successful. Last year’s plunge took place in mid-March, when it was far warmer, an approximate 50*F. There was also a huge turnout in comparison, with students, faculty, and sports teams coming to jump. This year’s Plunge raised an estimated $120, relatively small compared to last year’s.
“This year was not as good as last year… turn out went really well last year, like amazing,” said Bennett. When asked why she thought Special Olympics and the Plunge were important, Bennett said, “I think it is important because it is a fun way to bring awareness to the Special Olympics… the reason I got into Special Olympics was that I feel like it is really underappreciated. It is a way of giving recognition to those who are not recognized as often for their sports. So I think the Polar Plunge is a fun way to get everyone out and socializing together.”
Will the smaller turnout mean a change in plans to bring back the Polar Plunge next year? “I think that we are going to try and do it again this year, maybe before spring break to try and get a better turnout. I think it will be something that is carried out for years here, at least I hope [so].”