Polar plunge fundraiser held to benefit Special Olympics Wisconsin

The Polar Plunge is a national yearly event held by Special Olympics. At Marquette, it’s a yearly fundraiser held by “supporting special Olympics” one of the university’s service organizations to raise money for Special Olympics Wisconsin. Most years, students gather at the Milwaukee County Zoo to experience the freezing cold water together.

This year, with COVID-19 limitations, the club has been raising money through fundraising on social media and are working on a smaller plunge plan.

Nibia Joseph, a senior in the College of Health Sciences and public relations officer of Supporting Special Olympics, said students interested in plunging can sign up by emailing her or checking out their Instagram.

Students can make donations until the official plunge date on Feb. 27.

Joseph has been involved in Special Olympics, and other similar organizations, since she was young.

“I just wanted another opportunity where I saw them do something that they necessarily didn’t think they could before,” Joseph said. “I’ve heard so many kids say that they can’t do something because of their disability and that is something that I’m not okay with. They can do anything that they put their mind to, and I would really like to help them get there.”

Joseph said they especially loves being a part of the Special Olympics because of the “hype” and the “impact” that the polar plunge brings.

Although the polar plunge is their biggest event, the club participates in other fundraisers and volunteers elsewhere during the year, including at local schools and by doing bake sales

Christine Batliner, Junior in the College of Health Sciences and the club’s treasurer, says the polar plunge is so great because you have fun “with a bunch of like-minded people who have the same goal of supporting an awesome organization.”

For Batliner personally, Special Olympics have been a big part of her life, as her aunt was an athlete participating in swim events. She said it’s something she’s always been “super passionate about.”

While the polar plunge may not be the same as in past years, the club is still working hard to achieve its goals of helping the Special Olympics athletes. The club’s goal was originally $12,000, as they raised that amount last year. This year though, they’ve already raised $35,000, surpassing their original goal before the plunge has even occurred. For every $757 raised, a Special Olympics athlete is funded for the entire year.

“It’s a creative way to raise money and it really shows how much people care if they are willing to go in subzero waters,” Samantha DeLeon, a first-year in the College of Education, said.

Students interested in joining the club can reach out to any club member, club president Nibia Joseph, or find more information on the club’s Instagram.

This story was written by Karsyn Hartsfield. She can be reached at karsyn.hartsfield@marquette.edu