The Student News Site of Ithaca College

Ithaca Week

Ithaca Week

Ithaca Week

Community members and athletes take the plunge for a good cause

Plungers wade into the water at the 3rd annual Binghamton Polar Plunge.
The Southern Tier Chapter of the New York Special Olympics started the 2014-15 Polar Plunge season on Nov. 8 at Chenango Valley State Park in Binghamton, with Binghamton’s 3rd annual Polar Plunge as supporters athletes took a quick dip in the frigid waters.

Athletes, friends, families and supporters, many donned in their best superhero costumes, gathered on the banks of the water in support of the Special Olympics athletes. All of the athletes taking the plunge entered the water first, followed by all of the supporters.

As of Nov. 10 the event raised $13,645, which will support the 64,596 athletes in the New York Special Olympics. The cost for an athlete to participate in one season is $300. Some of the money raised during the event will help with those costs.

[topswf swf=’’ width=’550′ height=’400′ quality=’best’ wmode=’transparent’ scale=’default’ flashvars=” allowfullscreen=’false’]

The event has grown in popularity each year it has been hosted, Cassandra Rucker, director of development for the Central and Southern Tier regions, said.

“Knowing the power of sport and how necessary it is for our athletes specifically is really compelling,” she said. “This is their physical fitness; this is their social life, and this creates the opportunity for them to succeed even professionally.”

This was the first year the event was held at Chenango Valley State Park, and Rucker said they would like to make it their permanent location because of the facilities. There was a registration area, and the sponsor of the event, Dunkin Donuts, provided free coffee and hot chocolate for the participants.

Dunkin Donuts was one of the sponsors that supported the event, and one of its employees, Shawna Ellis, participated in the Polar Plunge.

“This is my first year and I think it’s a great cause. I raised $120 through family and friends,” she said.

Ellis participated as an individual, but participants also had the option of contributing as a team. Robin Spencer-Foote was part of the 34-person BOCES Panthers team, which raised the most money as a team, $2,986 — $986 above its goal — according to the online portal.

As a special education teacher, Spencer-Foote wanted to participate in the Plunge to support her students.

“I am here to support my kids because my kids are heroes,” she said. “The Special Olympics is totally awesome; there is nothing better and this [Polar Plunge] just supports it and let’s everybody know how important it is and we get more and more people come in all the time to help us.”

Having an event such as the Polar Plunge that is open for the community to take part in helps raise awareness for the Special Olympics and the efforts the organization makes, said Jackie Soldano, a student Syracuse University and Special Olympics intern for two years. Soldano was responsible for marketing and advertising the event, as well as operations during the plunge.

“I think it’s great because it puts a face to the name of Special Olympics; you know you actually get to see what we’re doing this for,” Soldano said.

The Ithaca Polar Plunge, also part of the Southern Tier Region, is scheduled to take place March 21, 2015. This will be one of the closing events for the New York Special Olympics 2014-15 Plunge season.


Leave a Comment
Donate to Ithaca Week

Your donation will support the student journalists of Ithaca College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Ithaca Week

Comments (0)

All Ithaca Week Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *