Taking the plunge

By Christine Bryant
Staff Writer

Members of the Reynoldsburg Schools Special Olympics team participated in the annual Columbus Polar Plunge, an annual event that benefits Special Olympics Ohio athletes. Educators, coaches and students participated in this year’s team, raising more than $2,200.

A group of Reynoldsburg City Schools educators and students plunged into icy water earlier this week – voluntarily.

Their leap into a frigid cold pool filled with ice, on a day when temperatures hovered in the 30s, may seem counterintuitive, but their reason for taking the plunge wasn’t.

The group of teachers and students participated in the 2018 Columbus Polar Plunge, held at Express LIVE! Feb. 3. Proceeds from the event supports the 26,000 athletes of Special Olympics Ohio.

This year’s Reynoldsburg Schools team included teachers, coaches and students, with participants raising more than $2,200 so far. Although the event occurred this month, donations are accepted through April.

Tara Alioto, a special education paraprofessional with the district, said as participants arrived, organizers began scraping ice off the top of the pool.

“They then brought wheelbarrows of ice out and dumped it into the pool before it started,” she said. “When you jumped in, it really hit you, but when you got out, it was shockingly cold. I couldn’t feel my feet. But it was all worth it, and I’m actually really excited for next year.”

Polar plunges are becoming increasingly popular in raising funds for a charitable organization. Some of the most popular include diving into the cold waters of Lake Michigan, Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and Coney Island, New York. Traditionally held in January and February, it also marks the beginning of a new year for some.

Though Robbie Brickner, a teacher’s aide for the special education program and substitute teacher at Reynoldsburg High School’s Summit Campus, has participated in five Mirror Lake jumps and two other Polar Plunges, he says it’s difficult to shake that initial blast of arctic cold.

“When you hit that freezing cold water, it just immediately takes your breath away,” Brickner said.

Jacob Perkins, athletic director at Reynoldsburg City Schools, helped fund raise for the team this year, and says although he couldn’t participate in the plunge, he was one of many faculty and community members who contributed to the worthy cause.

“I have been involved because the cause is one I care about and is special to me,” he said. “I have helped coach our Reynoldsburg High School Special Olympic teams now for seven years, and it is one of my favorite things that I’m able to do here at RHS.”

Alioto, who spearheaded this year’s team, said through social media and emails sent by volunteers, the group doubled its fundraising goal. However, the group isn’t finished.

Through April 30, community members can sponsor the Reynoldsburg Schools Special Olympics team that participated in this year’s plunge, helping team members continue to raise money for Special Olympics Ohio.

To donate, go to ColumbusPolarPlunge.org and click on “View All Teams” on the right side of the page. Select “Reynoldsburg Schools Special Olympics” and click on the “Donate Now” button near the top right corner of the page.

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