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2022- Polar Plunge- SIU Touch of Nature - K

Join us on March 19, 2022

Register Now! Donate To This Event

Take the SIU Touch of Nature Plunge to Support the Athletes of Special Olympics Illinois

The Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge presented by GEICO is excited to host this event again in 2022! 

Plungers will have two options to participate: 

  • Plunge OUR WAY at one of our Polar Plunge locations. Think open water and a SOILL-hosted event with all the traditional Plunge festivities.

  • Plunge YOUR Way and get creative to make it your own. If you can dream it, you can do it (safely, of course).

Do what works for you and your group. Just be BOLD and get COLD. Because again this winter, it’s not WHERE you Plunge, but THAT you Plunge. 

Plunge OUR Way

Plunge OUR Way and join us on March 19th at Touch of Nature Beach- Little Grassy Lake at 1206 Touch of Nature Road, Makanda, IL. Registration will be from 10 to 11:45 a.m. with the plunge taking place at noon. 

This year we will be plunging at a very SPECIAL place. Touch of Nature, which is considered by many locals as the birthplace of Special Olympics. Eunice Kennedy Shriver is often credited for founding Special Olympics and the first games on Soldier Field on July 20, 1968, but she did not work alone. She enlisted the help of one Southern Illinois University professor who was experienced in working with the intellectually disabled in the field of recreation, the late Dr. William H. Freeberg. In 1952, he established the first college-level curriculum in the nation that centered on recreation and outdoor education. In 1954, he along with others established an association for the intellectually disabled. He worked to create a residential summer camp for the intellectually disabled be resurrected at Little Grassy. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of President John F. Kennedy, also had a summer camp for people with intellectual disabilities – in her backyard.  She traveled to Carbondale to see Dr. Freeberg’s camp in 1961 and was very impressed.  She would later ask him to join a select group to help develop a program of recreation for people with intellectual disabilities. In 1968 Dr. Freeberg partnered with Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Justice Anne Burke and many others worked to make the first ever Special Olympics games so successful that is has evolved into the Global Organization that it is today. 

To learn more about Dr. Freeberg click here:









Dr. Freeberg died in 1987.  Touch of Nature Environmental Center now operates year-round in a number of capacities serving as a conference center, research site and provider of therapeutic recreation programs and services to the University and the larger community.  Each year, the inspiration of Dr. Freeberg is especially felt at the annual Special Olympics Illinois Southern/Region K Spring Games.

Plunge YOUR Way

We saw so much creativity last year when things had to look a little different than they had in the past. This is a way for you to create a Polar Plunge day to support the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois in a way that fits your needs. We’re talking dunk tanks. House parties with water balloons. Companies with parking lot kiddie pools. 

And of course, don’t forget to document it! We are asking all Plungers to share their experiences with us and the Special Olympics Illinois community. Post it on social with the hashtag #BeBoldGetCold and tag our social profiles. 

When coordinating your Plunge Your Way efforts, please review and adhere to these Best Practices. Do not attempt to jump into a lake, river or any other open body of water for the Plunge Your Way. Participants should not do anything that could physically harm themselves or others. Special Olympics Illinois is not responsible for any injuries that occur while participating in the Plunge Your Way event. 


Official Polar Plunge Sweatshirt Information

All plungers who have reached their $100 fundraising minimum by midnight on February 23, 2022 will be guaranteed their 2022 Polar Plunge sweatshirt the week of their local Plunge Our Way event. Plunge Your Way participants will be invited to attend one of the Region’s pre-registration events to pick-up their sweatshirt in the days prior to the event. 

All participants who reach the $100 fundraising threshold after that date but before the final date will receive their sweatshirt after the conclusion of the 2022 Polar Plunge season. Donations may be submitted online via your personalized fundraising page or mailed to Special Olympics Illinois.  Click here for details on how to submit offline donations. 


Plunger Incentives

All Polar Plunge participants are encouraged to fundraise beyond the $100 minimum for a chance to qualify for additional incentives.  Incentive levels include $250, $500, and $1,000. An email with a redemption code will be sent to all qualifying plungers in early April. 

For additional information, visit our main plunge site at 



Contact your Plunge Director, Kim Talley at 618-534-3111 or


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