The Simpsonian

Alpha Tau Omega, Pi Beta Phi take Polar Plunge

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Alpha Tau Omega, Pi Beta Phi take Polar Plunge

(Photo: Austin Hronich/The Simpsonian)

(Photo: Austin Hronich/The Simpsonian)

(Photo: Austin Hronich/The Simpsonian)

(Photo: Austin Hronich/The Simpsonian)

by Blake Carlson, Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Simpson’s Alpha Tau Omega and Pi Beta Phi recently participated in the 2018 Warren County Polar Plunge, a fundraiser for Special Olympics Iowa where teams raise money and take a cold plunge into Lake Ahquabi in.

This year’s event took place Feb. 24 and raised just over $31,000. After taking the plunge in groups of 10, there was a silent auction and post-party for participants, including a message from a Special Olympics athlete sharing what the program means to them.

“ATO teamed up with Pi Phi to have a larger group jumping, and in total, we raised $925 this year,” ATO President Jacob Becker said.

Special Olympics Iowa provides year-round sports training and athletic competitions in Olympic-style events for individuals with intellectual disabilities by providing them opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy, according to a statement on its website. The organization began doing the annual Polar Plunge event in Warren County 12 years ago.

Randy Spurr, the chair of the local Polar Plunge committee, discussed the life-changing impact the experience can have on participants.

“Watching the joy that the athletes get and hearing why it is so important to them is very heartwarming and humbling,” Spurr said. “The athletes make me realize what we take for granted and that we sometimes need to slow down and take in everything around us and take the time to enjoy the little things in life.”

Becker’s biggest takeaway was the willingness of people to help total strangers, and he encouraged more Simpson students to participate.

“I’d like to encourage anyone from campus to participate in the Polar Plunge,” Becker said. “Many of the participants have no connection to a Special Olympic athlete, so the fact that they’re willing to fundraise money and jump in literal freezing water says a lot about the heart of the participants.”

Spurr said students should know it is about more than just jumping in cold water.

“It looks good volunteering on a resume, but more importantly is seeing how the athletes can touch your life,” Spurr said. “I have learned many things from the athletes. They can teach us all to be more caring, compassionate and appreciative if we just let them.”

For more information on service and volunteer opportunities like the Polar Plunge, visit http://simpson.edu/career/local-service-opportunities/ or stop in the Student Development Office on the second floor of the Kent Campus Center.

To learn more about Special Olympics Iowa, visit: http://www.soiowa.org/.

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