More than 100 members of Marist’s football, rugby, and softball programs, along with their coaches, participated in the appropriately named Polar Plunge on Sunday, March 4, taking a frigid dip in Lake Michigan at North Avenue Beach in support of Special Olympics Chicago.
Alderman Matt O’Shea of Chicago's 19th Ward put out a challenge to local high schools to participate in an effort for athletes to support athletes. Marist was eager to participate for the second straight year.
"Doing the Polar Plunge is important to the football program for several different reasons. The most important reason is that it provides an opportunity for the players and coaches to contribute in a positive way to the community," Coach Ron Dawczak '93 explained. "I feel it is my duty as head football coach to not only teach the players about the game of football, but to teach them to be the best young men they can be."
Many of the plungers solicited donations from family and friends and a dress down was held at Marist on Friday, March 2 which raised just shy of $5,000 for Special Olympics Chicago which supports more than 7,000 local athletes. Proceeds from a day-long event on February 28 at Buona Beef in Beverly raised an additional $820 for the charity. On that day, football players served customers at the restaurant and Principal Larry Tucker '79 and O'Shea worked the drive-thru. Additionally, through t-shirt sales for the Polar Plunge, Marist made donations totaling $4,000 to Oak Lawn Park District Special Recreation, Elim Christian Services, GiGi's Playhouse, and Miracle League of Joliet--organizations valued by Marist employees and families.
"The kids where very excited and eager to once again participate in the Polar Plunge this year," rugby coach Jim Drouisas '98 said. "There was no convincing needed as they all jumped at the opportunity to contribute and promote Special Olympics."
For the softball team, which just started its season February 26, the event was a welcome kick-off to spring. "The girls were very excited when they heard they were doing the Polar Plunge," Coach Colleen Biebel '07 said. "Some girls were a little nervous about the freezing cold water, but overall they were thrilled to help raise money for such an amazing cause and to spend time with their new teammates."