This winter I will #PlungeWith Special Olympics Illinois at the 2018 Polar Plunge. That is right! I have committed to “be bold and get cold” for the 22,000 Special Olympics athletes participating across Illinois through the Super Plunge, where I will be plunging (completely submerging in Lake Michigan) every hour, on the hour, for 24 hours!
For me, this endeavor is to raise awareness about the amazing experiences happening for students in District 97 through the Special Olympics programs we have. Many students, colleagues, and community members are unaware of the successes we have had in all of our extra-curricular programs, as well as the sports we partake in throughout the year. So instead of having all the fun quietly to ourselves, here is a little bit of the beauty that goes on during the school year.
We have multiple sports that we participate in throughout the year with Special Olympics. We do bocce ball, soccer, basketball, and rhythmic gymnastics, and we are about to start track, golf, and bowling teams as well. Now these sports teams happen in many places, but the exceptional part of our teams is that they are unified sports teams! What this means is that the teams are comprised of individuals with and without disabilities. This inclusive opportunity allows for all the benefits of competitive sporting, while allowing for relationships to develop outside of the school setting for our students. This is often the greatest challenge our students will face in their childhood, as connecting with their peers can bring many hurdles depending on how they are impacted by their disability. Including all Oak Park schools, we currently have over 70 individuals participating in these sports teams. Having unified sports teams already puts us ahead of the game, but having such a large commitment to it from students makes us one of the biggest unified sports clubs in the state!
Along with the sports teams, Brooks and Julian Middle Schools are also Certified Unified Champion Schools. This is a certification through Special Olympics, which demonstrates that our students are actively planning to make our schools more inclusive and respectful. Students plan presentations, assemblies with guest speakers, and games to raise awareness and improve inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities. There are not many schools who have taken the initiative to partake in these programs, and the Oak Park Community should be celebrating these awesome students! So help me spread the word through this years Super Plunge, as I plunge 24 times in Lake Michigan this February to support an organization that does so much for students in our community.
To jump into the frigid waters, I have set a personal fundraising goal of $2500 and I need your help to reach it! Any amount is appreciated – it all goes to one “cool” cause and gets me that much closer to my icy dip. Best of all, your donation helps provide athletes with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to participate in Special Olympics programs and reveal their inner champion.
Thanks in advance for your support – and don't forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate too!