Making a splash
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Junior Alex Jaber remembers his body not being prepared to hit the 38-degree water last year at the Iowa City Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Iowa. He jumped in for five seconds and sprinted out to get warm.
Members of Sigma Chi race into the water during last year's Polar Plunge. Photo contributed by Alex Jaber.
This year, with a projected temperature in the low 70s, the event will feel different, but still just as exciting.
Jaber and his fraternity, Sigma Chi, will be participating in the Iowa City Polar Plunge Saturday, March 24, at Coralville Lake. Currently, 81 members of Sigma Chi are signed up to take the plunge. In order to participate, individuals must raise at least $75. Joining Sigma Chi are additional teams of students, community members, and special needs participants.
“The vibe of the event is really exciting,” Jaber says. “Everyone is happy, and everyone is upbeat.”
Besides taking the plunge, there is a mini stage with entertainment, activities, tents, raffles, and food to keep the energy high during the afternoon.
Jaber decided to get involved for personal reasons. His aunt had special needs and passed away at the young age of 23. He wanted to do it in honor of her, and then pitched the idea to his fellow fraternity members as well.
Sigma Chi jumped on the idea because of an influential board member’s personal connection to special needs children, and went on to raise the most money of any Greek chapter on campus last year.
“It was a really interesting experience,” Jaber says. “I loved seeing how happy everyone was, especially all the special needs participants. They were so excited. It was a humbling experience, and is something I want to keep doing.”
Sigma Chi continues to pace the group this year. The chapter, a sponsor of this year’s plunge, is leading in funds raised, bringing in $5,615 thus far. Jaber has raised $1,375 himself.
Three hundred students are registered to take the plunge, according to Jeannette Steinfeldt, a director of development at Special Olympics Iowa. The funds raised will help offset the costs associated with the Mid-Winter Tournament that was held in Iowa City on March 9-10. More than 1,100 athletes from across the state competed in basketball, basketball skills, gymnastics, power lifting, and cheerleading. The first night featured a banquet, and athletes were housed at the Marriott in Coralville. Day two was a full day of competition.
“We appreciate all the support of the UI students to make the plunge such a success,” Steinfeldt says.