Greater KC Public Safety Credit Union Plunges Into Fundraising

cu-in-the-water1The Greater KC Public Safety Credit Union is gearing up for its ninth year of plunging into the icy waters of Longview Lake for a good cause. Dubbed “CU in the Water,” the Credit Union’s team of brave plungers typically includes 20-30 credit union employees, friends and family. A few members of the team opt to take it to the extreme and Super Plunge (24 plunges over a 24 hour period). The team raises funds throughout the year by selling ice cream and candy bars in the Credit Union’s branches, as well as putting on garage sales and other fundraising events. This year, credit union CEO, Aaron Goff, hosted a “backyard concert” featuring Kansas City native rocker Bob Walkenhorst to raise money for the Plunge. “The Credit Union staff loves being a force for good in our community, and SOMO has been our primary charity partner for many years,” said Aaron. “We love Special Olympics, and we love the Plunge!” Aaron has racked up 80 plunges over the past eight years.

One of the team’s leading fundraisers, Laurie Clark, also stays up the night before the plunge to prepare and deliver a hot breakfast to all of the Super Plungers. When asked why she does it each and every year, Laurie’s response was “At first, I did it for fun. Now I do it for love.”

cu-in-the-water4Regular Super Plungers, Lindsey Moore and Becca Francis, both cite personal reasons for their support of SOMO. Lindsey said that, “meeting Special Olympics families and athletes has enriched my life and makes jumping into freezing water so worth it!” Becca echoed those words, adding, “I have [discovered] how important it is for everyone to feel accepted, not just in sports, but in life.”

Over the years, the CU in the Water team has managed to raise nearly $120,000 for Special Olympics and plans to keep participating for many years to come!

Registration is open for the 2017 Polar Plunge season. Find your location at www.somo.org/plunge!

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Partner Highlight: Missouri Association of Student Councils

fort osage bowling socialThe Missouri Association of Student Councils (MASC) chose Special Olympics Missouri (SOMO) as their charity of choice 24 years ago. Since that time, they have been raising funds and awareness in junior high and high schools across the state. Member schools are encouraged to assist with Special Olympics events in their areas. Many of the schools host events, volunteer at events, do fundraisers, participate in the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign and take the Plunge. The students volunteer an average of 12,000 a year, equating to 288,000 hours they have given to Special Olympics Missouri in 24 years. The students learn the importance of serving others and their commitment to SOMO extends beyond high school graduation.

MASC volunteer at YAP“There is not an event I attend that I don’t find a volunteer who learned about Special Olympics because of their involvement with MASC,” SOMO Sr. Director of Programs Trish Lutz says. “Recently, at the Jefferson City Regional Basketball tournament, I was talking with a group of girls who came from Mizzou to volunteer. I asked how they got involved and one girl said ‘I was in student council in high school and we were members of MASC and SOMO was our charity of choice. I would always volunteer at the Area Spring Games in St. Louis and I wanted to continue volunteering in college so I invited a couple of my college friends to join me today.’”

Dexter STUCO plungeIn 2009, MASC stepped up the commitment and really promoted the Polar Plunge. That year, 700 youth raised more than $99,000. The momentum they have generated since 2009 has resulted in a grand total of $624,888.33 being raised just through the Polar Plunge. This amount does not include all the other fundraising the individual schools do throughout the year.

MASC promotes and teaches acceptance, respect and inclusion for all. Our athletes are included in the MASC Summer Leadership Workshop where they work side by side with their peers developing their leadership skills, confidence and building a bridge of acceptance and change for all. The interaction between the youth leaders and the athletes is amazing! Athletes grow from timid, unsure individuals to outgoing, confident leaders who are ready to get involved with their student council as representatives, run for office and plan school activities. Youth leaders learn to embrace individual differences and the value of inclusion.

Savannah Middle SchoolMASC received the 2013 Special Olympics Missouri Award of Excellence. This is the highest honor the board bestows on an individual or organization for their years of service and impact on the SOMO program.

Special Olympics Missouri is lucky to have found a true friend in the Missouri Association of Student Councils. They are educating the leaders of our future to be agents of change, fostering respect and dignity through service to others.

If you know of a school that would be interested in being a member of MASC, visit their website at www.masc1.org.

Diary of a Super Plunger

Amy Wurst is a long-time volunteer as well as a SOMO Board Member. She is Vice President at Henry Wurst, Inc., in Kansas City. This was her fourth year participating in the Super Plunge.

Only 24 hours till the start of the SUPER PLUNGE!
I’m busy getting many outfits ready for my 24 plunges – there are a few new ones this year. I’m excited that my 10-year-old nephew is going to come join me for an afternoon plunge. Craziness must run in the family.

Thank you again for your generosity. I exceeded my goal thanks to you. The athletes of Special Olympics Missouri thank you as well. Without your support, they would not be able to train and compete year round in wide variety of sports.

SUPER PLUNGE is about to begin!
The good news is that the lake is not covered in a thick coating of ice this year! The search and rescue divers don’t have to do any chain sawing to clear us a path to plunge. And, the water won’t refreeze between plunges in the middle of the night. Yay!

The bad news is that the water is still VERY, VERY COLD!! The forecast is for rain later this afternoon – that would not be very pleasant. Let’s hope the forecast is wrong.

The first plunge is at noon and then every hour after that through the night. We are in a tent down by the water’s edge.

I’m all checked in and have my computer set up so I can get some work done between plunges and send updates.

Plunge #1 is over!
No matter how many times I’ve done it, the shock of that first plunge takes my breath away and feels like needles on my legs. Gee … only 23 more to go.

The three polar bears are Bill, Brian and me who are the lifers of the KC Super Plunge group. This is year #4 for the three of us and we just keep coming back.

The really great news is that as a group, the Super Plungers have raised almost $50,000! We couldn’t have done it without your support. Thank you!

Plunges #2 & #3
Well … in order to make up a couple of hours so we are done by 9 am tomorrow, we do a few double dips. We just finished plunges 2 & 3 – going in and out and in and out is pretty painful! My toes are still tingling.

Plunges #4, #5 & #6
We’re 25% done on plunges … time seems to be passing quickly. We’ll see if that trend continues into the wee hours.

We have a hot tub, but it sprang a leak and had to be refilled. Right now its water temperature is about the same as the lake water. I sure hope it warms up before nighttime!

A new Plunger takes a dip!
My nephew Andrew came out for plunge #7 –  he raised over $300 so he could do a plunge too. Gotta love his Root Suit! He says it didn’t help keep him warm at all. It couldn’t have been that horrible for him because he said he wants to do it again next year! Welcome to the craziness Andrew!

More Plunging
Thanks to Amy Skeels for coming out and bringing her dogs and all that chocolate! Plunging continues and now we have a country music band playing some kickin’ music for our entertainment. And big thanks to Andrew’s family for bringing me a fabulous gluten-free SPIN pizza – so yummy!

9 plunges down … 15 to go.

And the Plunging continues
We have now completed 13 plunges … over the halfway mark! Thank you to Amy & Ginger, Brenda & Stevie, Julie & Jackson & Mackenzie for coming out and bringing me some doggy love and great treats (hot tea, cheese soup, coffee, hot chocolate and snacks). You’d be surprised  how many calories you burn when you are running into freezing water and shivering! At least that’s what I’m telling myself as I continue to stuff my face.

Plunging through the night
Some dog visitors enjoyed watching me take a few plunges. I’m pretty sure Jackson the collie wanted to save me from the very large “well.”

It is now just after 6 am and we have completed 21 of 24 plunges. We double dipped at midnight, 2 am, 4 am and 6 am so that we can be done by 9 am. We’ve got to clear our stuff out of the tent by 10 so that it can be ready for the 1000+ plungers starting at noon.

We ran out of propane for the heaters in the tent so it is quite chilly now … makes it hard to warm up after being in the water. Thank goodness there are only 3 plunges left.

Rumor has it that Channel 9 will be out here for the remaining plunges – watch that clip here.

DONE!
Sunrise over the water sure was a welcome sight! We got some new propane tanks hooked up and got heat going again thank goodness. We made an executive decision after our 6 am double dip to do one more double dip at 8 and then a final plunge at 8:30.

I made it through yet another year of 24 plunges in 24 hours … next year will be my 5th anniversary! You’ll be hearing from me toward the end of the year for next year’s plunge! Thank you so much for your support.

Abby’s Arctic Angels

Pat Cockrill participated in the 2011 St. Joseph Polar Plunge for the first time. He was the top fundraiser at Lake Contrary, and Abby’s Arctic Angels was the top fundraising team. You can donate to his 2012 Plunge efforts here.

When Mary (Welborn) Oyler came by our house and mentioned how much she was missing Abby, we talked about the adventures they always had together. Special Olympics events were a common high time for both. Mary had mentioned Abby would always raise money for her, but she would never do the Polar Plunge. But 2011 was going to be different. Abby would have been out of school and teaching, and promised Mary she would not only raise money but also plunge with her. 

Unfortunately, on Aug. 22, 2010, Abby was killed by a drunk driver. Abby is/was our oldest daughter of three. When Mary told me Abby was going to plunge this year, I opened my big mouth and said I would plunge for Abby, not really realizing what I was doing. I just knew it was something I wanted to do to honor my daughter who truly loved helping those that needed help. Abby was going to be an elementary school teacher. Young people loved Abby. One of her managers at Spectrum Station, a Platte City Pre-school, stated ” Abby was a rock for students that had emotional, physical or mental challenges. She always helped them achieve more than they could by working closely, loving and urging them to success.” That is why she LOVED Special Olympics.

Abby's Arctic Angels before the Polar Plunge

When I was told that all the money that we, “Abby’s Arctic Angels” our plunge team, would raise would be used to send financially strapped children to the summer Sports Camp, I melted. What a better tribute to my beautiful daughter. Abby could still help these athletes, even if she was not physically here.

We sent emails and we wrote notes and phone calls and My friends and co-workers donated neatly $10,000 dollars. I was overwhelmed.

 

My plunge was incredible. We had a huge crowd. Mary and I went in first, totally dunking ourselves. I could just picture Abby doing this. But then I pictured her laughing her butt off

Mary Oyler and Pat Cockrill after taking the Polar Plunge

watching me from Heaven. Knowing Abby has been able to help so many young people go to a camp to learn one or two sports that they can compete in is very rewarding. I just hope they know how much love Abby would have given them.

I have committed to plunging one more year. Not sure the money will be as great, but I know every dollar we raise will help. We love you Abby!!!