There are so many things happening around the East Coast today with many people homeless and suffering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. I am in awe how people bonding together can make change. I realize that some needs are immediate; others are a long-term process. One constant is the ability to demonstrate to my own children how fortunate they truly are. There are places accepting donations, volunteers are needed to sort clothes.
Throughout all the chaos sometimes a moment of levity is needed. Watching 550 people rush into chilly Lake George on November 17 is one such annual event. There are 14 Special Olympic Polar Plunges around New York State. According to Development Specialist Michelle Iorizzo these events enable intellectually disabled children and adults to compete for free in 22 Olympic style sports in regional and state competitions throughout the year.
For the third year Lisa Jackowski and her team of 49 Max’s Buddies Polar Plungers have raised money for Special Olympics. It is a topic that is close to Jackowski’s heart as her son Max is a Special Olympian.
“Max asks every year if it is time to take the Plunge,” says Jackowski. “The athletes look forward to participating in the games. Max has met friends and remembers them year after year. These athletes are serious about participating. The events are timed and they can move up to another level. A lot of the participants are in a group home setting. They are looking forward to the socialization and it boosts their self-esteem. I can’t wait to see their smiles.”
Max’s Buddies Team has taken on a goal of $7,500 for the Special Olympics with 87% of it all ready raised.
“With our team fundraising in place we were able to take a break and focus on what was immediately at hand,” says Jackowski. “We refocused and started collecting donations for people affected by Hurricane Sandy. It was wonderful to see people dropping off items through the gym Core. I don’t think helping people has to be about one thing or the other. Hurricane Sandy is immediate and the Special Olympics is long term.”
Anyone can take the Plunge and there is no minimum for fundraising. There is also the opportunity to join the Chicken Coop for $50 and sit in a heated tent with food and beverages while the 549 people jump into the icy Lake George waters.
For those wanting to know how to help victims of Hurricane Sandy, the Red Cross is still accepting donations. There are also many helpful websites that are allowing people to post items that are needed in area shelters.
Photo: Lake George Polar Plungers (courtesy New York State Special Olympics).