Special Olympics preparing to take a plunge at the park


Susan Ahart

North Penn Special Olympics members at Polar Plunge.

With the below-freezing January temperatures, most people can’t even imagine jumping into a pool. But for the Special Olympics participants, the biting-winter weather isn’t stopping them from taking a plunge into the water.

Polar Plunge is a fundraising event run through Special Olympics where students raise money to jump into a frigid pool of water. Students must raise a minimum of $50, and the money raised will go towards Special Olympics as well as their Unified Sports programs, including unified track and bocce. Unified Sports is where students with disabilities are paired with a non-disabled partner to compete in the different activities offered. Located at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, the Polar Plunge takes place on January 28th between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m.

“It is a ton of fun for all involved, including the coach!” advisor of North Penn’s Special Olympics club Susan Ahart expressed.

This year is Ahart and Vice President Molly Agriss’s first year taking part in the Polar Plunge. Meanwhile, it is Special Olympics President Hannah Mallitz’s second year. Last year, due to Covid, the plunge was converted to a pop where the students popped balloons of cold water over Ahart’s head.

“My kids certainly enjoyed the experience of popping water balloons over my head. They even iced the water before filling the water balloons,” Ahart exclaimed.

“I am just super pumped to be involved in Special Olympics and the Polar Plunge,” Agriss stated, “This is my first year involved, and I am so excited for the new experience.”

Ahart explained that even though it wasn’t a plunge, they still gained so much support last year. After she posted it to Facebook, she was able to raise $200 within the first hour. Since there was so much support through the virtual event, Ahart and the rest of the Special Olympics members are excited to see how much support they will get now that the event is actually a plunge.

Ahart feels that this event is important for students who struggle with peer interaction. After years of teaching at North Penn, she has seen how much the Special Olympics has helped these students who struggle to find a place where they are comfortable and can have fun.

It helps give them a safe and supportive environment where they can interact with others. I love getting to see the confidence this program builds in both our athletes and their partners.

— Susan Ahart, advisor of North Penn’s Special Olympics club

“It helps give them a safe and supportive environment where they can interact with others. I love getting to see the confidence this program builds in both our athletes and their partners,” Ahart explained.

Ahart and Mallitz both strongly encourage all students to get involved, even if they aren’t part of the Special Olympics. Not only will it be fun, but the money goes towards a great cause, and this event helps form new friendships.

“It is going to be so much fun. It will be a great way to spend a day with current friends and even meet some new ones,” Ahart stated.

“There are going to be tons of activities and it is going to be such an exciting event. This is a great way to celebrate our love for the Special Olympics,” Mallitz added.

The Special Olympics team is getting ready to make a splash at Citizens Bank Park in style. Many of the outfits include fun items like tutus and goggles, and for any student who participates, they have the opportunity to make their own fun and creative Polar Plunge outfit.

“We are shooting for the exact opposite of groufit day. We want lots of colors and crazy outfits heading into the park,” Ahart said.

When I asked Mallitz and Ahart how they feel about the idea of jumping into the numbing pool water they seemed to have two very different opinions.

“I have to say, I am not the kind of person who loves the idea of jumping into cold water, but I think all the rest of the fun that day will totally make up for it in the end,” Ahart said.

Meanwhile, Mallitz expressed a little more excitement for the plunge.

“I am so excited to jump in that water and be ‘freezin for a reason,” Mallitz said, “The Polar Plunge was one of the highlights of my sophomore year! I can’t wait to get back out there and jump in with my friends.”

For students that are interested in participating in Polar Plunge, they are encouraged to join the Special Olympics Google Classroom. The code to join is gvrbqcd. In the classroom, students can find directions on how to register and should also pick up a field trip form from room E112 for their parents to sign. All completed forms should be turned in by the end of the day Wednesday 2/19 to Mrs. Ahart.