More than 100 members of Marist’s football and rugby programs, along with their coaches, participated in the appropriately named Polar Plunge on Sunday, March 5, taking a frigid dip in Lake Michigan in support of Special Olympics Chicago.
Alderman Matt O’Shea (19th Ward) put out a challenge to local high schools to participate in an effort for athletes to support athletes. Marist was the first to respond.
“The players were extremely excited and surprisingly not worried about jumping into a freezing Lake Michigan and were ultimately thrilled to be a part of an amazing fundraiser,” explained rugby coach Jim Drousias ’98.
Many of the plungers solicited donations from family and friends and Marist held a dress down day on March 3 that raised more than $3,000 for the cause. This helped the group donate more than $6,300 in total to Special Olympics Chicago.
An important aspect of the whole project was supporting families at Marist who have children with special needs. The athletes involved sold event t-shirts and all the money from those sales, $8,000 in total, was divided among four Marist employees to use to cover costs associated with activities for their children. Katie Kettering, the mom of three Marist alumni, works in the Marist cafeteria and planned to use the funds she received to cover the costs of an annual baseball game for kids and teens with disabilities, like her son, Charlie, at Mt. Greenwood Park.
“We always stress that Marist football is about more than Friday night lights,” head coach Pat Dunne ’98 said. “It’s about being a part of the community and giving back to those in need.”
Drousias agrees. “We wanted to do something as a team and have the ability to give back to the community and this was a great opportunity,” he said. “Not only did we help Special Olympics Chicago but we were also able to help families here at Marist and that meant a lot to the coaching staff and the players.”
So, were the frosty temperatures too much for the guys? Not according to Drousias. “We will be back next year for sure.”