The Polar Plunge in Joliet can still be a daunting challenge even with an unseasonably warm winter with little snow, but according to one group from Homer Junior High School, that is not the case.
Dubbed as The Homer Subzero Heroes, the team waded through the waters of Leisure Lakes Membership Resort March 11 for the Polar Plunge, an event that supports Special Olympics Illinois.
“It really meant a lot to me because we all came together from different departments in the school and just really to be out there and know that we’re out there supporting Special Olympics [Illinois], and together representing Homer was really awesome to do,” said Brittany Konsoer, a resource teacher and team leader.
Konsoer said though she did not know what to expect when plunging, she had a theory.
“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be,” she said. “I think the worst part was my feet were frozen, but it was worth it.”
A number of groups came out in support of Special Olympics Illinois this year.
Konsoer said the turnout tells a lot about the community.
“I think the support is really high,” she said. “It was really eye-opening how many people were out here. I thought it was neat everyone from kids to adults to grandparents, parents, teachers. I think there’s a lot of support for them.”
Homer Junior High principal Troy Smith also came out to show his support for The Homer Subzero Heroes.
“When our principal walked up, it really meant a lot to us,” Konsoer said. “He didn’t plunge with us, but he was here to stand there by our sides. It was really cool to see him come out.”
Amy Marzano, a seventh-and eighth-grade physical education teacher, was one of 20 people that made up The Homer Subzero Heroes.
“It was unbelievable to see how many people are here to support Special Olympics and all the different athletes,” she said. “It was bigger than my wildest dream of what I thought it was going to be.”
Marzano said the anticipation leading up to the Polar Plunge was huge. The way she and other staff members approached this feat made all the difference, she said.
“I would have to say that through the week we were talking to each other and pumping each other up,” Marzano said “The support from my staff and even the people who couldn’t come or couldn’t plunge, they were so supportive and so excited for us. Just the excitement, I think, got us through everything.”
Marzano said it means a lot seeing such a strong turnout for the Polar Plunge.
“Seeing so many people that are out here to support our students, and students that have special needs to be able to be athletes is unbelievable,” she said. “As a P.E. teacher, I want all of my kids to be moving and grooving any way they possibly can. So, Special Olympics to support that is unbelievable.”
Maxine Pavlovich, a seventh-grade science teacher, agreed.
“It’s a very worthy cause,” she said.
This year was Pavlovich’s first time completing the Polar Plunge. She said coming together with her colleagues to support a cause they all care about was very encouraging.
“It was very worthwhile; I will absolutely do it again,” she said.
The Joliet event was one of 23 held across the state. Participants were required to raise a minimum of $100 prior to taking a dip into the icy waters of Leisure Lake.
As of March 11, The Homer Subzero Heroes brought in roughly $8,300 in donations, according to Konsoer.
About $98,316 was raised by all of those participating in the event, as of March 12, and the deadline to make post-Polar Plunge donations is April 28, according to Special Olympics Illinois.