Charlotte Ann Donofrio and Lillian Ann Marie Samuelian jump their way into raising awareness.
Charlotte Ann Donofrio and Lillian Ann Marie Samuelian jump their way into raising awareness.
Elmhurst District 205

Advocates plunge their way into spreading awareness for Special Olympics

On Friday, Feb. 23, York hosted a Cool School Plunge that was an event that went to host awareness toward the development of future inclusive programming for athletes with disabilities. Throughout previous years, Best Buddies has been able to be that beacon of kindness that spreads recognition to those who are wanting to explore other well connected programs, that bring inclusivity to spreading awareness for kids of special needs. One of the most fairly known programs that highlights students stepping out of their comfort zone is Special Olympics. The club itself has covered basketball as one of their main sports that they’ve been able to highlight throughout each and every other year, but Best Buddies wanted to do more in collaboration with Special Olympics.
“Best Buddies was able to partner together in raising funds for future inclusive activities, because all funds that are raised go to the creation of future special olympic activities,” Meghan Ausnehmer, Co Sponsor of Best Buddies, said. “As of right now we are planning to have three sports in the special olympics, which would be involving track, volleyball in the fall, and it’s starting to involve people with disabilities and without.”
For the past couple of years, Best Buddies and Special Olympics had ambitious goals in wanting to expand their inclusive sports offerings from one Special Olympic season to multiple. Whether that be by hosting specific fund raisers in giving back to the community, or just spreading awareness to those who are seeking different sporting interests in Special Olympics. Best Buddies was able to spread the word in wanting to raise funds for Special Olympics, and was able to receive higher donations than expected.
“We had a very ambitious goal of $31,000 and honestly this goal stemmed up to being one of the top fund raising in the state, and the fact that we were already at $21,000 is mind blowing because we didn’t expect it to go so well,” Ellie Fallen, senior representative of Special Olympics said. “We are super excited that people have contributed so far, and not just how many plungers there are but actually how many people are donating from the kindness of their heart.”
Throughout the past week many supporters have contributed a great amount of funds to Special Olympics, which then lead them to celebrate their victory by diving head first into the cold depths of the pool. All through the evening, students and staff members were able to burst out into laughter and appreciation towards the amount of donations they’ve raised.
“I say one thing that stood out to me is being able to go and watch the people have fun and watch people jump into the water,” Kate Sloan, sophomore, member of Best Buddies said. “Even some of the teachers got to belly flop in the water which was pretty funny overall I would say it was a pretty fun event to watch although it was cold outside it was still really fun.”
As the event left students and other faculty members shivering through a cold harder day. Special Olympics and Best Buddies ended up close to their initial goal of $30,000 throughout the weeks leading up to the event. To date, the York community has raised $26,000 for inclusive programming. Club sponsors were touched by the impacting accomplishment, since both organizations made an impact to those seeking supported financial support in spreading more events that highlight recognition to kids of special needs.
“The Polar Plunge event is rarely new to York since we have never done it here before, but I do know that lots of other schools are wanting to take part in this initiative,” Ausnehmer said. “Part of this event is to make it more accessible to more people that come from similar communities, because we do have a wide range of support around our district.”
As donations grew, multiple different communities heard about the rising accomplishment of York’s plunge event. Other high schools in particular to Lyons Township, Downers Grove South, and Andrew High School had all taken part in the Polar Plunge event during York’s rising achievement. While each school was participating in the event, not only did the funds grow more awareness to Special Olympics, but also grew a bigger community throughout the school district.
“The Polar Plunge event has by far been the best fundraiser, and not just because we raised the most money in the state this year, but because we’ve gotten to see people come together through this amazing cause,” Fallen said. “It is so beautiful to see just how many students want to get involved, because now we are able to slowly increase the chances in expanding more Special Olympic sports as we keep moving forward.”

More to Discover