February 10, 2012

Campus Lake plunge will benefit Special Olympics

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Those who “take the plunge” at Southern Illinois University Carbondale may get a chill from their icy dip in Campus Lake, but their heart-warming feat will benefit a good cause. 

The American Marketing Association, a campus registered student organization, along with Chi Sigma Chi and Recreational Sports and Services, are teaming with Special Olympics Illinois for the 2012 Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge on Feb. 25.  That day, hundreds of people will “plunge” into Campus Lake at noon to raise money for Special Olympics.  All funds directly benefit people with intellectual disabilities residing in a 10-county region of Southern Illinois. 

The event is one of 20 statewide that comprise the largest fundraising effort for Special Olympics Illinois.  And, it is the only plunge that takes place on a University campus, according to Linda Wunder, southern region supervisor for Special Olympics Illinois. 

This is just the second year for the event at SIU Carbondale.  Cheryl Burke Jarvis, faculty adviser for the American Marketing Association and associate professor of marketing, said the inaugural event in 2011 brought in more than $30,000 for Special Olympics with nearly 200 people participating.

The goal this year is to get 250 people to take the plunge and raise at least $40,000.  If that happens, it could well put the University in contention for the Collegiate Cup.  Special Olympics Illinois presents the travelling cup to the college or university raising the most money during Polar Plunge 2012.  Eastern Illinois University won the bragging rights last year with $35,000, so event organizers are challenging all Salukis and friends to help them emerge as this year’s “top dawg.”

Those participating in the “plunge” each need to raise a minimum of $75 in donations in order to jump in the lake.  All who do will get an official “Plunge” hooded sweatshirt as well as admission to the party afterward.  In addition, participants have the opportunity to earn other individual incentives and prizes, including a seven-night trip for two to Riu Negril in Negril, Jamaica, from Apple Vacations, by collecting donations.

Registration for the Polar Plunge begins at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 25 and those planning to participate should pre-register in advance, if possible, by logging on to www.plungeillinois.com.

The 2012 plunge has a “Beach Party” theme and everyone is welcome to participate, whether as an individual or in teams.  Ramp up the fun by challenging others to raise the most money or by wearing costumes and inviting friends and family to come watch your cold swim. There are prizes for the top individual fundraiser, team winners, and for the best costume. 

The post-plunge party will be at the small gym of the SIU Carbondale Student Recreation Center after the event is over.  Competitors get lunch and guests may purchase the meal for $5.

Want to donate but not able to attend the Carbondale Polar Plunge?  You can show your Saluki spirit and support for Special Olympics by visiting the “Saluki Dawg” celebrity plunger website http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/salukidawg/2012-polar-plunge-carbondale and making a donation.

For more information, contact Wunder at 618/654-660 (or by emailing lwunder@soill.org) or Jo Dodd at 618/457-2969.