Members of the Philo Knights of Columbus council have been taking the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Illinois since 2006 when one of its members participated with the Ivesdale Knights council. That led to a challenge between the two councils for bragging rights and more people began participating.
The Philo Knights usually have 3 to 7 members on the team for the Mahomet Polar Plunge, with David Happ, Scott Wiesbrook and Matt Robert doing it the longest amount of time.
The Philo team meets at the home of Mike Bosch, who lives in Mahomet. “I live in Mahomet, so it is real easy for everyone to stop by before to ‘prepare’ and then after to warm up,” said Bosch. “There is always lots of warm food to get our bodies warmed back up.”
While the team members don’t wear costumes like many of the other teams participating in the Plunge, they do strip down to swimming trunks and shoes. They feel it’s only right to wear as little as possible to get the full effect of the Freezin’ for a Reason mantra. However, team members do recommend wearing aqua socks on your feet for protection from the cold ground and lake’s bottom.
The Philo Knights raise more than $3,000 annually for the athletes of Special Olympics through word of mouth and emails, with Facebook coming into play in recent years. Most of the money comes from family, friends and co-workers. Bosch himself raises more than $1,000 each year.
“I think the favorite part for each of us is seeing the Plungers as they come out of the water,” said Bosch. “Just the expressions on their faces … it makes for a very enjoyable time, until it is our time to plunge,” he said.
“It really is a lot of fun and (the money raised) goes to a very good cause,” said Bosch. The team members know that their brief “freezing” will provide training and competition for a lot of deserving people in their community. Team members stressed that letting your donors know you appreciate them is a must for successful fundraising.
The Polar Plunge “is a great event that takes very little time to do a great thing,” said Bosch.
The team will be plunging again this year at noon Saturday, Feb. 27, at Lake of the Woods in Mahomet.
If you are interested in joining the Philo Knights at the Mahomet Plunge or want to plunge at any of Illinois’ 21 locations, visit PlungeIllinois.com.