Polar Plunge raises more than $4,000 for Special Olympics


Landen Prescher

Every winter, in an effort to raise money for a worthy charity, several brave students and teachers take the polar plunge. This year’s dive took place on Feb. 4 in the Wisconsin River, Wisconsin Rapids; the temperature was a balmy 34 degrees.

Although there are many people who do the polar plunge each year, there are a few teachers in particular who make it a part of their yearly winter routine. For example, high school science teacher Steven Swan has led the Amherst polar plunge team for the past three years and donated all the money he collected to the Special Olympics, Stevens Point. This year the polar plunge team raised more than $4,000. “I got started doing the polar plunge when I worked at the paper mill; a few coworkers and managers roped me into it,” Swan said.

“I have done the jump eight times now and when I started teaching I brought it to all the schools I worked at and made it a part of of the National Honor Society’s activities, but now I look to include anyone and everyone,” he added.

Several other teachers also participate in the fundraiser, including Spanish teacher Natalie Glaze, and English teacher Jennifer Ludeman. “I did the polar plunge as a kid in high school when I was stronger and more coherent,” Ludeman said when asked why she joined the polar plunge. Ludeman, though now in her 60s, proves anyone can do it. She did the polar plunge because the high school students donated the most money in her name. Ludemen also spent a few of her summers as a camp counselor for the Special Olympics during her time in high school.

Glaze has contributed to the Special Olympics in many ways during the course of her lifetime. This was her first polar plunge, but she has contributed to the Special Olympics since she was age 13. Glaze also does it for noble reasons: “Working with individuals with special needs has been an important part of my life since 4th grade. Starting in 4th grade, I worked with a peer who had cerebral palsy. Our friendship sparked my interest in helping with the Special Olympics, and since 7th grade, I have served as a volunteer, coach, and instructor every year since. I have helped with the summer games as a basketball and track coach and I have helped with winter games as a snowshoe and alpine coach.”

Jumping into the freezing river waters isn’t for everyone, but charitable donations of any kind are always welcome. Next year, come out and take the plunge! A little chill is worth the cause.