An Olympic athlete proudly standing with his torch, a torch tarnished over the years, with years of pride and accomplishment. A local Special Olympics athlete on the receiving end of that torch, proudly accepting it, as he is an Olympian in his own right. A room full of associates erupting in applause and grasping on to that moment of hope and jubilation for years to come.
This event sparked it all back in August of 2016.
At my former job, I was tasked with coming up with an event to raise money for the chapter of Special Olympics in Buffalo, NY, during the Summer Olympics in 2016. I was terrified; I had never planned any event before, let alone one of the nature that was being asked for. I was to engage associates and bring everyone together for the cause. There was a lot of doubt at first, but I got to work with some fellow colleagues and we set out to plan an event that we thought would be impactful.
We reached out to Special Olympics and told them of our plan and they were ecstatic. What resulted was a three-day Olympics game, where associates came together to build doughnut towers and trivia. They also played Minute to Win It games where they wore tissue boxes filled with Ping-pong balls around their waists and had to wiggle the balls out of the box. With all the fun that was had there, the real fun was at the closing ceremony we arranged.
My colleague at the time, Jack Mathias, competed in the 1976 Olympics in sailing and had his torch with him. We paid homage to his experience, but then we called Nick Zmuda up front and he beamed with joy. Jack passed his torch to Nick, and then we all realized that is what matters in life. The 60 associates in the room with us erupted in applause, and everyone was humbled by that experience.
Sharing in joys and experiences, and making sure everyone gets their chance to show their skills and their unique and amazing purpose in life.
With that first fundraiser, we ultimately raised $1,000 for Special Olympics. From then on, my colleagues that participated in the event were so engrained in the mission of Special Olympics that we started doing the Polar Plunge, where we all raise money and run into a frozen lake in December, more appropriately dubbed #FreezinForAReason. This is now our 4th year of Polar Plunge. We want to continue sponsoring local athletes and giving them the gift of sport and friendship. Everyone deserves that type of fellowship.
This is why I plunge. Seeing Nick’s reaction to receiving the torch said it all. This is why WE plunge. To give everyone in all abilities the spotlight they deserve.
To donate to Special Olympics via the Polar Ice Caps team, please click here.