Champions Together unites for Polar Plunge

Many people scoff at the idea of swimming in an ice-cold lake at the beginning of March, yet many students turn out for the Polar Plunge year after year. The Polar Plunge is an event in which students donate money to run into very cold waters at Eagle Creek Reservoir to aid the Indiana Special Olympics organization. This year the plunge is on March 7 at 9:00 a.m.

The event is run in partnership with the Champions Together Club and the organization. Indiana Special Olympics aims to empower individuals with intellectual disabilities by ending discrimination in sports and by developing leadership skills and meaningful connections with others. The organization was founded in 1969 and has over 18,000 athletes and 10,000 coaches and volunteers.

The Champions Together Club shares the goals of the Indiana Special Olympics organization and wants to expose and end inequality in society through the medium of sports. Dean of students Patrick Schooley said the club is trying to make a bigger impact by creating a more inclusive athletic environment at school.

“Our goal is to provide more athletic opportunities for students that previously did not have those opportunities,” Schooley said. “What we’re really trying to do is get more students involved of all different types and abilities in athletic competitions schoolwide.”

Schooley said another hope for the club was to gather all varsity sports together and unify them to create a sort of clinic for each individual sport. Having each sport connected maximizes involvement with the organization and club and allows for many more donations to be collected. He added that leadership in any sport and especially the club was crucial and that an interconnectivity between the two would foster that leadership.

“What we want is for any student in the club to be able to make those connections and be the person that bridges the two [club and varsity sports] together,” Schooley said.

The club spreads its message throughout the school and aids the Indiana Special Olympics by collecting donations and participating in events such as the Polar Plunge. Schooley said FHS began participating in the Polar Plunge in 2009 with the help of the school’s football team. He added that the goal now is for every member of the Champions Together Club to participate or gather donations in some way, creating a sense of leadership among members.

“I lead the Polar Plunge but I ask the members to go out and gather their own fundraising and participation,” Schooley said. ”Additionally, in order to be a Champions Together school you must raise $1,500 each year for the Indiana Special Olympics, so the students feel a sort of desire to achieve that goal.”

One of the members of the club, Conner Babcock, said that one of the most important parts of being an efficient and good member of the club was being open to all ideas and accepting everyone.

“The main idea of the club is is to enjoy time with the kids while trying to spread the word that inclusion is everything,” Babcock said.

Babcock added that the donations are usually gathered through members asking family or friends to give a small amount to the cause.
“So far I’ve raised $65 and I’m on track to go over my goal of $75 which is great!” Babcock said. “As a club we all discussed ways to raise money and spread the word.”

Donations to the Champions Together Club and the Indiana Special Olympics are encouraged and can be made through this link.

Kathleen Tran
Coach of Champions Together Club and Dean Patrick Schooley encourages students at the 2019 Champions Together kickball game.