Last year, Special Olympics Illinois athlete Jonathan Mies preferred high fives in return for every $5 bill put towards his Polar Plunge fundraising efforts.
“It all started last February when we went out by the lake near the KC Hall, where the Plunge in Region H normally takes place,” said Jonathan’s mother, Jean. “We were wondering what to do since it would be a Plunge At Home for 2021.”
The 2021 Polar Plunge, like a lot of events across the country, pivoted to an all at-home format for the year, and many past Plunge participants found new ways to particpate.
“I don’t know if it was the way Jonathan held his hand up or if I said ‘give me a high five’ but, that was the moment it all started,” Jean added.
Throughout the Plunge season Jonathan shared virtual high fives with every $5 donation made to his fundraising efforts. He traced his hand and wrote the donors’ names alongside. He also sent personal thank you videos and notes.
“It happened organically and snowballed from there!”
Many donors have contributed $5 for every member of their immediate family, helping Jonathan to far surpass his original fundraising goal.
Jonathan’s family and friends have seen the impact Special Olympics Illinois has on Jonathan as well as many other individuals. When Jonathan asked for their help with his Polar Plunge fundraising efforts, they did not hesitate to donate $5, $10, $20, or even $50.
Jonathan plunged with fellow athletes, Law Enforcement Torch Run officers, and supporters. “I plunge to help other athletes like me,” he said.
Jonathan competes in bocce, swimming, soccer, and golf with the Springfield Park District. He is always willing to volunteer his time to help athletes, volunteers, and Special Olympics Illinois staff.
Rob Queenan, Region H Assistant Director has a close relationship with Jonathan.
“Whether its setting up, tearing down or just greeting people and giving them high fives, a smile, or a fist bump, Jonathan always wants to help,” said Rob.
It is so inspiring when athletes like Jonathan take the lead on efforts like his ‘high fives for the Plunge.’ He should be very proud of himself, I know we all are.”
While many are missing the comradery of being together in a traditional Polar Plunge setting, athletes like Jonathan continue to find ways to keep the spirit and joy of Special Olympics alive.
You can support athletes like Jonathan by registering for or donating to the Polar Plunge.