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Wednesday June 29th

Despite the cold, people take the plunge at Lark pool to support Special Olympics

Chapel Hill mother and daughter, Ruth and Peri Thomson, hug following their jump into the frigid pool for UNC Special Olympics' Polar Plunge Fundraiser hosted at the Lark Chapel Hill pool on Saturday, March 2, 2019. Peri, 22, and has been swimming and cycling since the eighth grade.
Buy Photos Chapel Hill mother and daughter, Ruth and Peri Thomson, hug following their jump into the frigid pool for UNC Special Olympics' Polar Plunge Fundraiser hosted at the Lark Chapel Hill pool on Saturday, March 2, 2019. Peri, 22, and has been swimming and cycling since the eighth grade.

UNC Special Olympics’ Polar Plunge brought around 25 people to the Lark apartment complex pool Saturday to jump into the frigid water together in celebration of a six-week long fundraising effort for future Special Olympics events. 

Among them was junior Brock Schoenwald, treasurer of UNC Special Olympics, who was a key figure in organizing the fundraising effort.

“So essentially this money that we are raising today is going to Special Olympics Orange County, which is the Special Olympics chapter that we at UNC work with," Schoenwald said. 

The club decided to give the money to the larger organization in Special Olympics Orange County, which will use the money for their own future events, including basketball and flag-football leagues and tournaments for athletes.

The actual fundraising for Polar Plunge began long before the event with each UNC Special Olympics club member challenged with raising money. 

“We started raising funds about a month and a half ago, and we really just left it up to our club members to raise as much as they thought would be feasible, and $50 per person just seemed like a good number," said Special Olympics co-president Mackenzie Albert. “So we were hoping to raise at least a thousand, and I think we just reached that goal today.”

(From left to right) UNC juniors Abby Gribbly, Brianna Zavilowitz and Hannah McClellan leap into the frigid pool for UNC Special Olympics' Polar Plunge Fundraiser hosted at the Lark Chapel Hill pool on Saturday, March 2, 2019.


Polar Plunge is not a fundraising event unique to Special Olympics Orange County but rather a trademark event for Special Olympics nationwide. 

Prizes were given out on Saturday to the individuals who raised the most money and who had the best “plunge." Overall, the event proved to be very laid-back and fun-oriented, with participants socializing and listening to music after they got out of the freezing pool. 

“I liked watching all of the people when they jumped in and their reactions when they got out," said UNC Special Olympics member Ryan Goodwin. 

Peri Thomson was one of the athletes present on Saturday, and she said she was grateful for all of those who came out in support of Special Olympics. 

Thomson, 22, has been involved in Special Olympics ever since high school when her mother noticed both her love for and athletic ability in swimming and cycling. She said she has greatly enjoyed the experiences Special Olympics has given her over the years, especially the friends she’s made in the process.

“If they are all supportive of Special Olympics, it’s quite an honor because I think it means they care about Special Olympics, and students and athletes with limited abilities," Thomson said. 

university@dailytarheel.com

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