Polar Plunge club raises awareness, gets more students involved
February 26, 2018
The Special Olympics is a sports organization dedicated to individuals who have intellectual disabilities that provides year-round training and competitions to millions of athletes in many countries. President of Central’s polar plunge club or team, sophomore Cassandra Willey was inspired by those around her to create a club where the proceeds raised, benefit the Special Olympics.
The years spent at Alice Buffett Middle School, Willey was introduced to the Polar Plunge team and has been a part of it since. “I’ve done it two years already with the Buffett team and then Mrs. Joseph, the teacher sponsor was talking about her daughter who’s in Special Olympics,” Willey said. A good portion of Willey knew she wanted to do some good to the community and have others involved as well. Carrie Joseph is an English teacher who has taught a Central for many years. Being Willey’s English teacher, Mrs. Joseph’s spoke fondly of her daughter, Charlie, which prompted something in Willey that said, “Hey I should start something at Central too.”
The club mainly consists of fundraising and even though it just began, they have raised about two thousand dollars in a few months. “Most of the hard work is done already,” Willey said. As a team, the club has made shirt that advertise the Polar Plunge club. Their group activities are for the purpose of bonding and volunteering together. When raising money, they sell candy bars and create tutus during team bonding events. In the end, all proceeds go to Special Olympics.
Their cases benefit the Special Olympics because in a short time, they raised thousands of dollars and their efforts are only just beginning. “All of that money will go to help the Special Olympics and help all the people who don’t have the money to join stuff like that and to be a part of the community,” Willey said. There is no age restrictions or grade limit, “There’s no discrimination at actual events, besides our team, there’s five-year-old’s jumping in, eighty-year-old’s and even dogs.”
“The Polar Plunge is its own event, it is to raise money, it is not for the actual athletes,” Willey said. For the Special Olympics there is bowling, swimming and several other activities that contribute to Olympic sports. Central’s Polar Plunge team does quite the opposite with their abundance of team bonding activities and chances to volunteer. “Me, personally, I don’t have a lot of volunteer activities to do so it’s an opportunity for other students,” Willey said.
The workload is not lost on Willey when it comes to organizing events and fundraising. “It’s been a lot of work trying to do this,” Willey said. Since she is only a sophomore, it is something she has taken into consideration as her high school career progresses. The thought of giving back to a community that so desperately needs it, is what keeps Willey going. She will most likely continue it to be President of Central’s Polar Plunge Club for her remaining years.
On Friday’s the club meets in the computer lab or the library for an hour or two after school to structure plans and future events. One time, the team created t-shirts for club recognition and, “When we went to create t-shirts, we went to the Omaha Print Shop whom were so gracious and sponsored us,” Willey said.
The team is preparing to Polar Plunge by being outside for long amounts of time. Before plunging, people will be outside waiting in the cold, they must get used to being cold, then jumping in freezing cold water.
“The community surrounding the Polar Plunge Club [both at Buffett and Central] was so nice, it’s a great bonding experience for everyone,” Willey said. Even though Willey does not know anyone in her personal life that participates in Special Olympics, she recognizes that millions of people do, including her teacher, Carrie Joseph.