Indiana Special Olympics continued its 2020 philanthropic season, stopping at Ball State Saturday for the annual campus Polar Plunge. Jumpers were greeted by sunny skies and decent weather, but chilly water straight from the fire hydrants made sure the day would still be “polar”.
The event, which is coordinated with Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity, started at noon as more than 60 jumpers braved the artificially icy water to raise awareness.
Polar Plunge was held at the University Green this year to try and attract more students into participation. Previous plunges were at the Student Center.
Participants were led by an athlete in the Special Olympics pledge before lining up and preparing to take the plunge. Many were in costumes, including several Hawaiian outfits, zoo animals and an entire Quidditch team from Harry Potter. The representatives of the magic world took home an award for best dressed team.
Also jumping into the water were 25 to 30 members of Phi Sigma Kappa. For some, this was their third or fourth jump while they have been in college.
Nationally, each chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa hosts some sort of Polar Plunge in the beginning of the spring semester. Recent plunges took place at Purdue, Valparaiso and Cincinnati, where over $275,000 was raised for Special Olympics.
The money goes toward team fees, camps and large-scale events where thousands of athletes come together in recognition of their efforts throughout the year.
And while the jump itself freaks out some involved, for Noah Swatscheno, the stress of the day came from making sure Polar Plunge went off without any hiccups. As the philanthropy chair of Phi Sigma Kappa, Swatcheno is in charge of the day’s preparation, from organizing sponsors, to setting up the pool.
It was also his second year in a row taking the plunge, but that doesn’t make the feeling any better, weather aside. 2019’s plunge saw a light snow and temperatures below 20 degrees.
“It’s cold,” he said. “You get shocked right away when you jump in that water.”
Participants don’t seem to mind however, as the event’s slogan reads, “freezing for a reason.”
Last year’s plunge raised over $20,000 between all involved and Swatscheno is confident they will meet that number again this time around.
“Last I checked we [Phi Sigma Kappa] were at eight grand and I think we’re going to surpass that because we have guys who still need to raise the money.”
Each brother in the fraternity had to raise a minimum of $100 for the fundraiser. The fraternity also hosted sign-up and donation tables on campus, as well as dine-and-donates at Village restaurants. These efforts led to PSK being the recipient of the highest money raising team award.
Polar Plunge events carry on through the end of March as there are still several stops left in Indiana. Upcoming Plunges are hosted at IU, Butler and Indiana State universities. Donations, regardless of participating location, can be made until the final plunge date.