Special Olympics profits from Polar Plunge success

Cortney Wood

With 45 people who volunteered to jump, Rider High School students rotated teams through the Polar Plunge on Jan. 28. Photo by Cortney Wood

More than 100 people took on the Polar Plunge Jan. 28 at Bruce & Graciela Redwine Student Wellness Center to benefit the North Texas Special Olympics raising over $5,200.

“That’s the largest number of participants we’ve ever had,” Mike Strickland, Special Olympics North Texas area director, said. “We had seven teams jump, and some teams had two or three teams within that. We were just excited to see that many people come out and support the Special Olympics.”

Strickland said the event ran “solely on our volunteers” and without community involvement, the Polar Plunge wouldn’t provide the same feeling of excitement or accomplishment that comes out of everyone joining together for a cause.

“It’s probably most exciting for all these high schools and their student organizations to come out and get involved,” Strickland said. “Wichita Falls High School has some of our Special Olympics athletes jumping, and that’s the kind of inclusion that comes from something like this.”

All three high schools within the Wichita Falls Independent School District participated in the Plunge and collectively raised over $2000. With 45 people registered to jump, Rider created competitions between organizations to challenge one another to raise the most money, according to National Honor Society Sponsor Sally Mroczkowski.

“It started out with our husband and wife team between softball and baseball with coaches Alisha and Jeremy Crouch,” Mroczkowski said. “The softball girls came out and really stuck it to them by raising $376.55 and it just kind of snowballed after that. We had the boys’ soccer team challenge the girls’ soccer team and for every $30 raised, the other team got to pick a person they wanted to see jump.”

Like Rider, Wichita Falls High School had a collective goal in mind to raise money together, but instead challenged administration instead of organizations.

“My part in all this was that if the students and teachers both raised $1,000 with everybody I would jump,” Wichita Falls High School Principal Christy Nash said. “We did a little collusion to get some of the administration involved with it, and part of that was the students and outside donations. The two gentlemen that jumped with me are two of our assistant principals, Jesse Thomas and Wayne Calhoon.”

Students that participated and raised money are “incredible” because this helps a “great cause and that’s something that can’t be given without community participation like this,” Nash said.

Various prizes were awarded to teams and individuals that raised the most money, which included a prize packs with Polar Plunge merchandise along with gift certificates to Spa Bella and Texas Roadhouse amongst other prizes.

While the prizes were an incentive for involvement, Mroczkowski said coming together was more than enough to entice students to volunteer.

“I am most proud that our schools are so inclusive,” Mroczkowski said. “We have a kindness about us when we are accepting of all students, and that produces a kinder school and environment to be in.”

Along with the three high schools and senior junior forum, the other community organization that raised money and participated in the Polar Plunge was MOG Sheppard Air Force officers. While MSU hosted the Polar Plunge, no specific organization joined the event.