Story first appeared in the Monday, Feb. 7, 2022 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times
While there are many ways to participate in the event, Polar Plungers typically fundraise a minimum of $100 from friends, family and their community before taking a plunge into cold waters. Participants are encouraged to “Plunge Our Way” at in-person events across Illinois or “Plunge Your Way” at home. This year, Special Olympics Illinois aims to raise over $2,000,000 through the Plunge to provide health and wellness training and leadership resources for more than 23,000 Special Olympics Illinois athletes.
Amanda Propheter, dedicated Polar Plunger and competitor with the Fox Valley Special Recreation Association, is doing her part to make this goal a reality. The 32-year-old athlete, community volunteer and avid Chicago sports fan has already raised over $2,500 from family, friends and her community.
Amanda’s desire to fundraise extends beyond supporting a great cause; she is motivated by personal fitness.
When Amanda was two years old, doctors predicted she would never speak or have the muscle tone to play sports. Now, she is a gold medal athlete in multiple sports, competing all over the nation. Amanda and her mother Chris have made it their mission to “prove everybody wrong,” empower those who were told they “would never” and spread awareness about the special needs community with Special Olympics Illinois. As a result, Amanda has been invited to speak all over the country as a global messenger.
This winter, to meet her Polar Plunge fundraising and fitness goals, Amanda posted a video on social media, promising to swim one lap for every dollar donated, up to $100. Her expansive social media following rose to the occasion, sponsoring Amanda to swim 100 laps at once – a feat which “felt amazing,” she said.
Special Olympics Illinois has provided Amanda with countless opportunities for 24 years. The organization has given her “a lifeline”: lasting friendships, “a huge family,” public speaking skills, travel, brushes with fame, empowerment to be her authentic self and a “happy and healthy life.” Participating in Special Olympics Illinois is all about “connecting us with other families” and “training athletes to be leaders in their communities,” says Chris, “It’s not always about raising money, it’s about [the athletes] showing up and getting some representation.”
This year, Amanda plans to “Plunge Your Way” with the Maple Park Police Department at the Maple Park Fire Department. Her father, sister and sister’s boyfriend will join her in a chilly “hose down” followed by festivities and fundraising at local pubs.
Over the years, the Maple Park community has raised almost a million dollars for Special Olympics Illinois under the leadership of Colleen and Jim MacRunnells; and they hope to reach that mark in 2022.
This year, Amanda’s generous employer, Total Body Health Center, and Martha Dorfler of RE/MAX Excels are providing matching donations for her fundraiser. “It takes a village,” Chris explained. And it’s a village of which Amanda is thrilled to be a part.
If you would like to learn more about the Special Olympics Illinois Polar Plunge, sign up to participate, or make a donation, please visit the event website at plungeillinois.com.