As the Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge continues to grow in Illinois – surpassing $2 million raised in 2014 – its reach continues to grow within the law enforcement community in addition to the general population as well. Below are two stories about two different group’s experiences with the Polar Plunges.
Crestwood Police Department Top Fundraising Department
The Crestwood Police Department has been participating in the Manteno Polar Plunge for about five years and each year their involvement continues to expand.
For the second year in a row, the Crestwood Copsicles were the top fundraising law enforcement team with 62 team members raising a whopping $43,458! That’s up nearly threefold from the 23 members who raised $14,653 in 2010.
Det. Chris Soderlund credits the group’s ability to continue recruiting new members. “Each year, we have guys who are recruiting new family and friends to Plunge,
” he said. “We’ve found that the new people have a much easier time raising money because it’s a novelty for them and their donors.”
Again this year, the team secured a coach bus to transport Plungers to the Manteno Plunge location. “It adds a safe, fun aspect to the Plunge,” Soderlund said, who added that the bus ride becomes a party on wheels.
Each year after the Plunge, Soderlund hears from people who say it looks like fun and would want to do it next year. “The trick is remembering who said they’d do it and contacting them next year,” he said with a chuckle.
Students Engage Community in Plunge
What began as one family’s commitment ended up being a community effort when a team of 16 middle school students not only took the Plunge at this year’s Polar Plunge but went above and beyond to support the athletes in their community.
Amy Rosentein is a special education professor at Eastern Illinois University and has plunged previously with her daughter, Olivia, at Lake Sara. Typically they travel a couple hours to plunge, but this year they decided to put a team together closer to home in Urbana. Olivia was excited to do it but told her mom she wanted to plunge with kids her age. Olivia started calling her friends to see if they were interested.
“Well word started spreading like wildfire,” said Amy Rosentein.
The Polar Bears of Olympus wore their orange Percy Jackson themed T-shirts and in a matter of three weeks raised almost $4,000. Rosenstein helped set up online fundraising pages for each student and then shared with friends and family through e-mail and social media. She encouraged them to share it with everyone they knew which turned out to be quite successful.
“We had some kids that raised $400 to $500 on their own, so it was pretty amazing,” said Rosenstein.
At the other middle school, teacher Lindsey Brownfield led the Artic Tigers. The two took part in a friendly competition to raise money.
“Our group and their group were going back and forth for first place in the fundraising. That turned out to be quite fun. We were thinking in the future we would get together,” said Rosenstein.
Rosenstein looks forward to potentially working with Brownfield to develop a peer mentoring program outside of school where the students who plunged will work with special needs athletes.
The day of the Plunge, Olivia and her team handed out bracelets they made with orange, white and black rubber bands representing their school colors and purple for the Polar Plunge.
For Amy, Olivia and her team, they not only see their team growing in size but also in their commitment to Special Olympics all together. “My daughter and her friends are really committed and they want to help (Area Director) Jackie (Walk) continue to do it locally,” said Rosenstein.
By Calysta Will, Communications Intern