Special Olympics Illinois athlete Jack Klawitter didn’t just take the Plunge At Home this year…Together with his family, he took the Plunge At Home 24 times.
Jack’s mother, Brook Klawitter, Special Olympics Illinois Vice Board Chair, and father, Dave, are longtime SUPER Plungers – an extreme version of the Plunge where brave participants camp on the shores of Lake Michigan in Evanston and run into the icy waters on the hour for 24 hours. This would have Brook and Dave’s 11th year of SUPER Plunging in Lake Michigan (and their 12th year plunging).
Jack himself is no stranger to the SUPER Plunge. He started taking 5 Plunges around the age of 9, then gradually upped that to 10 and then 15. He began taking all 24 Plunges in 2019.
“Over the years, people have come to ‘know’ us for SUPER Plunge,” says Brook.
So, when the Plunge turned virtual, they transformed their backyard into their own SUPER Plunge. Each hour came with its own theme and its own set of costumes and props.
Jack’s sisters Sophie and Mary joined in the fun, too.
“Last year Sophie was our 24-hour support person, and this year both of the girls joined us for a number of the plunges. They have both asked to take all 24 next year.”
Other themes included The Wizard of Oz, Field of Dreams, Castaway, and more. All 24 Plunges can be found here.
The Klawitter Family far surpassed their $10,000 fundraising goal. To date, the family has collected nearly $13,000 and hopes to hit $15,000 before the Polar Plunge season ends.
“As a family, we’ve taken over 650 plunges,” says Brook.
Brook feels it’s important for their family to do their part to give back to both Special Olympics Illinois and Law Enforcement Torch Run.
“Jack isn’t the only one that has benefitted from Special Olympics Illinois,” Brook explains.
“His benefits may be more obvious, but Dave and I found a family and village to help us raise Jack and the girls. The girls have been as welcomed into Special Olympics as Jack. They have participated alongside Jack, and have learned competitive sports skills, compassion, leadership and more.”
Experience a Chicago-style party after a Cubs Spring Training Game! The event is a traditional Chi-Town party filled with your favorite celebrities entertaining the crowd!
What a great way to enhance your spring training trip, by going to Chicago Baseball Bash for Special Olympics on March 20, 2021, from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at The Sheraton in Wrigleyville West, Mesa, Arizona. Hosted by Joe Mantegna of Criminal Minds (the original Bleacher Bum) and other sports celebrities. All proceeds benefit the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois.
Chicago Baseball Bash tickets are $40 per person and include entertainment, a Chicago-themed buffet, and open bar of beer, wine and soda.
Appropriately, this event will be held in Mesa, the first-ever Autism Certified City in the U.S. designated by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), the result of nearly a year-long quest to tailor travel experiences for individuals with autism and their families.
In total, almost 100 businesses and organizations in Mesa and the surrounding area completed autism certification training, and are now each deemed a Certified Autism Center by IBCCES. The effort was immediately embraced by other city factions including the Mesa Chamber of Commerce and numerous nonprofit organizations. More than 500 Mesa Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities employees and 1,200 plus Mesa Police Department public safety and law enforcement officers are fully committed to autism certification training. To date, nearly 4,000 community members have completed or committed to the autism certification.
Looking to get involved with Respect Week? View this page to learn more about the activities we have planned!
Be Bold, Get Cold, and Be Kind
The cold weather did not stop Special Olympics Illinois athlete Kaylee McLaughlin from taking the Plunge At Home. Kaylee took the Polar Plunge from home on Sunday, February 21, where she took an icy dip into a pool.
Like many, this was her first time plunging at home. Historically, she has plunged into Wick’s Lake in Rock Island with family, friends, and supporters by her side. She has also participated in the WIU Plunge in Macomb and the Lake Storey Plunge in Galesburg. Kaylee’s first plunge was in 2017, but she has been supporting her Father’s plunge efforts for over a decade.
There was no shortage of creativity when it comes to finding ways to encourage family, friends, and the public to champion her Plunge At Home endeavor. From posting countdown photos and videos on her personal Facebook page to selling bracelets and homemade enchiladas to the local Warren County community.
Kaylee is consistently one of the top Polar Plunge fundraisers. This year, Kaylee surpassed her fundraising goal by raising over $5,600. Polar Plunge isn’t the only event Kaylee champions. She supports the Ducky Derby, local Region F fundraisers, and so much more!
Despite the pandemic, in 2020, Kaylee raised over $13,000 for the organization.
When asked where her motivation comes from, Kaylee said, “I love Special Olympics. More than almost anything!”
“I love all the opportunities Special Olympics Illinois offers the athletes, especially the fundraising opportunities that allow me to fundraise my heart out so the program can continue to grow.”
To learn more about the Polar Plunge and how to get involved, please visit plungeillinois.com
A Mother’s Dedication Can’t Be Frozen
Beth Marshall is no stranger to the Polar Plunge. For a number of years, she has plunged into frigid waters in Fox Lake, Illinois. Why? Her son, Flynn.
Flynn is a Special Olympics Illinois athlete who currently competes with Pioneer Center in McHenry County.
Flynn began his athletic journey at the age of eight with Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association. He started with one sport – track and field. However, to this day, Flynn refers to it as “run and throw.” When he started high school, he was able to compete with the school team. Now, 17 years later he has competed in nine different sports, including powerlifting and his favorite sport – basketball!
Beth began plunging in 2011 – it all started at Richmond-Burton High School where she teaches.
“My first year plunging, I created a school team for students to participate in,” says Beth. “Flynn was a freshman in high school and had become friends with a number of upperclassmen.”
They thought this was a great way to support Flynn.
When the Plunge turned virtual, Beth was determined to lend her support to the cause and to her son. The mother/son pair tag teamed the Plunge At Home — Beth sat in the snow as Flynn poured ice cold water over her head. “I want to support an organization that is important to our family and community.”
The Marshalls have raised nearly $1,000 to date. You can support their Plunge efforts here, or consider registering for your own Plunge At Home at plungeillinois.com.