It may be starting to get colder, but that is not deterring a few outdoor events.
On Nov. 17, a fundraiser for the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania will be taking place at Presque Isle State Park. The Polar Plunge involves running into the ice-cold waters of Lake Erie after participating groups raise money for Special Olympics.
Multiple RSCOs and other organizations at Mercyhurst are participating. Mercyhurst also competes against local schools like Penn State Behrend and Gannon, to see which school can recruit the most volunteers.
“The Polar Plunge is a fundraising activity primarily,” Mitchell Marsh, a junior Hospitality Management major who will be taking part, said. “I’m looking forward to the impact it will have. It’s called ‘Freezin’ For a Reason,’ and that’s what we’ll do to raise money for Special Olympics of Pennsylvania on Nov. 17.”
Marsh serves as a member of the MSG Student Senate, which is one of the participating teams.
Even a few academic departments are participating this year, including the Education department, one of the larger departments on campus.
Hailey Keating, Education Studies graduate assistant, is looking forward to the impact the department’s involvement will have.
“We have an Education team and we just raise money for our team, but we’re still part of Mercyhurst, which is nice. The money goes to Special Olympics,” Keating said.
One of the benefits of the Polar Plunge is that it brings the campus together because everyone participating in this event has the same agenda.
“We built a team and right now there are six of us signed up so far,” Hannah Buncher, a sophomore Pre-Med student, who is on the chair of the Public Health Club, said.
“We’re all really excited for it. We had a lot of fun last year and it’s an important cause for many of the people in our club,” Buncher said.
Many students passionately value the Polar Plunge. For them, the event gives them a chance to do something that is important and to express how much they value Special Olympics.
In addition to those groups, the Laker Leaders are also participating. Their team already has many people signed up.
Brenna Nelson, Laker Leader chair, will be team captain for this group.
“A couple of weeks ago I got a hold of some the Laker Leaders and asked if we could start a team,” Nelson said.
“And so from there I think we got probably 10 to 12 people. The day of the event, we usually meet up to get our t-shirts. We take pictures and then we walk over to the beach together before we plunge.”
Many of those who have participated in the past have no regrets and are going again.
“I did the Polar Plunge last year with Laker Leaders, and I loved it. It was cold but well worth it,” Grace Simpson, a junior Music Therapy major, said.
Sophomore Grace Siwinski, a fellow Music Therapy major, is plunging as part of the Senate team.
“I think that it’s an amazing event, and we’re jumping in freezing water for a reason. Everyone should come and support whether they’re jumping or not,” she said.
Even those who are not plunging love to volunteer at Special Olympics in general.
“I’m really excited to participate for the third year in a row,” said Taylor Cavaretta, a senior in the Education department. “The Polar Plunge raises money for Special Olympics, which I love to volunteer for.”
This year’s event hopes to raise funds for the nearly 20,000 athletes that participate in Special Olympics activities across the state of Pennsylvania.