For the second consecutive year, Daemen University earned the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Top Fundraising College title, raising a grand total of $6,821.
Held on Dec. 3, the event saw teams plunge into Lake Erie’s cold water at Woodlawn Beach in Hamburg, N.Y. to raise awareness for the Special Olympics.
Daemen’s team consisted of 29 participants, including professors, education students, and family and friends. Throughout the fall semester, each participant was tasked with raising at least $125 for the event.
Their efforts paid off, as the team nearly doubled last year’s total funds raised.
“These funds will support more than thirteen athletes competing in regional, state, and national events,” said team leader Colleen Wilkinson, assistant professor in Daemen’s Education Department. “I hope more members of Daemen’s community participate and become involved for next year’s event to raise even more money to support this important cause.”
The Polar Plunge for Special Olympics is just one of the ways Daemem can set an example to others to advocate for inclusivity, explained Wilkinson. “A large part of our Daemen identity is that we are an inclusive community and this event is a way we can demonstrate this to others,” she said.
As for Daemen education majors, Wilkinson said the event allows them to see that there is strength in everyone.
“It is important for any future educator to gain experience interacting with students and their families so that they can understand who they are as people, and what their lives entail outside of the classroom,” said Wilkinson. “Overall, this experience will help them strengthen their dispositions as teachers and make them better global citizens.”
Wilkinson is calling on students, faculty, and staff to join the team in the spring when Daemen will compete against colleges across the nation in the annual Unified College Challenge hosted by ESPN.
During the competition, teams will be tasked with offering an entire week of inclusive activities and posting about them on social media to create awareness about the Special Olympics.
“Daemen came in third last year, which was a huge accomplishment,” said Wilkinson. “We are hoping that we can continue to spread the word this year enough to claim first place.”
Those interested in competing in the challenge can contact Wilkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.