LETR Events Stories

Super Plunge Celebrates 15 Years of Jumping into Icy Waters

Mary Pocuis carry’s the Eternal Flame.

February 21st at 1:00 p.m. sharp, a group of 46 SUPER Plungers began the first of 24 icy dips into Lake Michigan over 24 hours, all to benefit the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois.

This year, the SUPER Plunge celebrates its 15th year of bringing individuals – from all walks of life – together for one common cause. Among the group was a first-time SUPER Plunger, Director of Illinois State Police, Brendan Kelly, and as well as longtime SUPER Plungers Mary Pocuis and Mike McDermott.

For most, this event may seem unbearable or impossible, but for Brendan, Mary, and Mike, it is just another way to give back to the athletes.

Mary Pocuis and Mike McDermott center.

“The men and women who serve in the Illinois State Police believe in the best of humanity and lifting people up, so supporting Special Olympics Illinois is a natural fit,” said Director Kelly.

Director Kelly and his team are looking forward to continuing to SUPER Plunge next year and for years to come. They hope to become as experienced as Mary and Mike, who have been plunging since the event’s inception, 15 years ago.

For Mary, the experience is a subtle reminder of why continuing to plunge is so important. “We do crazy things, for all the right reasons,” said Mary. “It’s about the athletes that we serve here in Illinois.”

Illinois State Police are our heroes no matter what uniform they wear!

Being a leg leader for DuPage County, Mary tries to gain as much continued support as possible from her fellow officers. She does not ask her fellow officers to support something she would not do herself.

As of the 2020 SUPER Plunge, Mary and Mike’s warm hearts have taken 360 plunges over 15 years – a record here in Illinois.

“I would have never stayed this long without the great people involved in the Torch Run that keep us motivated to jump in the freezing lake,” said Mike.

Illinois State Police take the Plunge

After 24 hours of plunging into ice-cold water, morale can be low, but not for this group. They pulled through until the end, raising over $131,000 with 46 total SUPER plungers. The SUPER Plunge could not have been a success without the help of many contributors, including Statewide-presenting sponsor, GEICO.

As a result of support from first-time plungers like Brendan and long-time plungers like Mike and Mary, the SUPER Plunge has had continued success. On the 24th plunge, Mary turned to Mike and said, “I’m coming back next year, and so are you!”

IDOC Torch of Cash


The Illinois Department of Corrections is partnering with Special Olympics Illinois to host Law Enforcement Torch Run Torch of Cash Raffles at their various facilities.

Illinois Department of Correction facilities interested in hosting a Torch of Cash Raffle must apply for a raffle license at their local city hall. The License should be secured under the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Illinois name, NOT IDOC.  Please contact your local government to determine the steps to acquire a raffle license in your municipality.

Once the raffle license is approved, please follow the below steps when conducting your raffle. Click here to download the Payout Check-List.

Illinois Department of Corrections
Torch of Cash Raffle Process

Step 1 – Secure Raffle License

IDOC Liaison must apply and be approved for a Raffle License in the municipality they are hosting the drawing in.  Raffle license should be requested under the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Illinois name. Special Olympics EIN #: 36-2922811

Step 2 – Notify Special Olympics Illinois

IDOC Liaison must complete this online notification form and upload a copy of the approved raffle license.

Step 3 – Host Raffle and Submit Funds

IDOC facility will host a weekly raffle until a winner is selected.  Money raised via raffle sales should be submitted to Special Olympics Illinois via this form each month.  Please note you must indicate Torch of Cash in the event name area at the bottom of the form. Torch of Cash donations will not be credited to your department total until the conclusion of the raffle.

Step 4 – Update Special Olympics Illinois each week

IDOC facility liaison must update Special Olympics Illinois of the raffle progress each week via this online form.

Step 5 – Select Winner and Follow Payout Policy

Payment will be mailed within 35 business days of Special Olympics Illinois receiving all completed payout documentation (approximately 40 days from the raffle drawing date).

Payouts less than $600

  • Inform winner to allow 30 days to receive their payout from Special Olympics Illinois
  • Complete the Payout Checklist and email to TorchRun@soill.org within 5 business days.
  • Inform winner that payment will be mailed within 35 business days of Special Olympics Illinois receiving all completed payout documentation.

Payouts $600 – $5,000

  • Winner to Complete 2020 W2G Form , include payout amount and ensure signature and date at bottom of each page
    • Winner to keep all copies of W-2 EXCEPT copy D.
    • Mail completed W-2, Copy D & completed Payout Checklist within 5 business days to:

Special Olympics Illinois
Attn: Torch Run
605 East Willow
Normal, IL 61761

Payouts greater than $5,000

  • Winner to Complete 2020 W2G Form, include payout amount and ensure signature and date at bottom of each page
    • Winner to keep all copies of W-2 EXCEPT copy D.
    • Mail completed W-2, Copy D & completed Payout Checklist  within 5 business days to:

Special Olympics Illinois
Attn: Torch Run
605 East Willow
Normal, IL 61761

***All raffles must be concluded by the first Friday in December of the same fiscal year that they began. ***

Complete Online Notification Form Here

Calling All Law Enforcement Personnel with Special Olympics Athletes in Family


The Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run and Special Olympics Illinois Families Committee are looking to identify law enforcement personnel who have a family member with an intellectual disability and who would be willing to share their story.

“We are trying to identify people who have ties as both a Special Olympics family member and member of the law enforcement community,” said Katie Herriott, SOILL Director of Development-Torch Run. “We know there are many law enforcement officers in Illinois who have a relative currently involved or who could be involved in the program, but we don’t know their story yet.”

2015 Coaster Challenge KirschOne such family is the Kirsch family of Shorewood. Steve is a Deputy for the Will County Sheriff’s Police whose daughter competes in Special Olympics through Special Connections. Steve, along with his wife Chris, are the first LETR Family Liaisons and serve on both the Family and LETR State Committees.

“We have been asked many times why we are involved with Special Olympics Illinois and our answer is always ‘How could we not be?’ ” said Chris Kirsch. “Our experiences with SOILL have been incredible! Time and time again we have seen how Special Olympics has changed the participants in immeasurable ways, especially our daughter, Rikki. We feel very strongly about giving back both at local events and at a state level.”

The Kirsches see their involvement with the Law Enforcement Torch Run as an extension of their involvement with Special Olympics that provides them with source of support and inspiration. “Having a police officer and a Special Olympics athlete means we have two uniquely inspiring ‘families.’ We are able to relate to officers and directly share how their efforts impact the athletes.”

The Kirsches encourage all law enforcement families with Special Olympics athletes – whether son/daughter, sister/brother, aunt/uncle, cousin – in their families to share the story and help us inspire others.

If you’re interested in sharing your law enforcement/Special Olympics family story with us, please contact the Kirsches, Katie Herriott or Karen Milligan, Director of Families and Athlete Leadership Program. View a flyer on the Law Enforcement Torch Run Family Liaison program.

TR Event Notification Form



Truck Convoy


What is the Truck Convoy?

The Truck Convoy is a fundraising and awareness event that creates a unique partnership between law enforcement and the trucking industry to raise funds for Special Olympics so athletes can continue to train in year-round sports activities. Officers involved in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics have made the Truck Convoy one of their many annual signature events in Illinois!

The Illinois Convoys

Special Olympics Illinois and the Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run will partner up in 2020 to host two Truck Convoy events!  (Please note, the Sears Centre Truck Convoy has been canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions). Our two locations include Tinley Park, and Troy IL.  Details and dates for the Truck Convoy can be found below:


History of the Truck Convoy

The Truck Convoy was conceived in 2001 by Cpl. Norm Schneiderhan, special project coordinator for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Florida. Schneiderhan, who drove a truck for about three years in his father’s trucking company before he entered the field of law enforcement, launched the event for Special Olympics as a way to call attention to the organization among truckers.

For more information on the Truck Convoy, contact Katie Risley at 309-533-3725.


Pilot Flying J