Brace for Impact: Greek members participate in annual Polar Bear Plunge


Chris Jorgensen/Iowa State Daily

The Polar Bear Plunge was held Friday at the Hansen Agriculture Center. The annual event supports the Special Olympics of Iowa.

Sierra Hoeger

April showers bring May flowers.

On Friday, the old saying took a new meaning as individuals weren’t splashed with rain, but instead with the aftermath of a fellow Greek community member’s cannonball, or jump into below freezing water.

Ames held its 23rd annual Polar Plunge on Friday. The Polar Plunge is a fundraiser that supports Special Olympics Iowa, hosted by Greek Community members. It also serves as one of the closing events members can participate in during Greek Week.

Leading up to the event, sorority and fraternity members have spent the majority of the week raising money for Special Olympics Iowa, daring to post embarrassing pictures on Instagram or wearing an abnormal outfit for a day in order to raise funds.

A minimum fundraising goal of $50 is required to jump, and for an additional $25 raised, the plungees also receive a t-shirt. Other fundraising incentives include: water bottles, AirPods and various polar plunge merchandise.

“Before, I was pretty hesitant to jump in there because it doesn’t seem that tall, but once you get on that platform, it’s a solid jump,” Greek Week Executive Director Olivia Weaver, said. “And so I kind of stepped back and let the other two go, but then jumping in, once you get in there, it’s freezing, but, again, it’s for a good cause.” 

The spirit of competition that has been the consistent theme of the week leading up to the event is instead replaced with fun and philanthropy.

“It all goes back to the overall sense of just having fun with people … making new friends and giving back to the community,” said freshman Josh Anderson.

Anderson is a member of Delta Upsilon, and this is his first year participating in Polar Bear Plunge.

Many sorority and fraternity members have a history with Special Olympics and choose to participate because of how connected they feel to the organization.

“My brother has autism, so this is really big for me,” Anderson said. “It’s a great opportunity to give back to the community.”

For another member, this isn’t her first experience with Special Olympics.

“I was involved with Special Olympics in high school, but my love for [Special Olympics] really developed as a freshman [at Iowa State],” Weaver said.

The Iowa State Greek community is the largest donor to Special Olympics Iowa, and hopes to be for many more years to come.

For John Kliegl, Special Olympics Iowa has multiple meanings. Kliegl is the President and CEO of Special Olympics Iowa, and his daughter Abby, 23, has competed in Special Olympics sports such as cycling and dance since she was little.

“The inspiration comes from our athletes,” Kliegl said. “We have over 16,000 athletes. Our summer games are in Ames every year. Iowa State’s been a tremendous sponsor to us since 1992.”

The Greek community hopes to reach their goal of fundraising $350,000 by the time the week was over.