Greek community plunges into Greek Week


Jessica Kalahar/Iowa State Daily

The team known as “Bob Barker’s Brigade” crosses the finish line of the Greek Week bed race. The group consists of the sorority Kappa Delta and the fraternities Pi Kappa Alpha, Adelante and Delta Sigma Phi.

Eli Johnson

Iowa State’s Greek Week will head into hibernation this weekend after one final plunge for a good cause.

Iowa State will host the annual Polar Bear Plunge on Friday at State Gym. The event is designed to raise funds for the Special Olympics, which is hosted by FirstGiving, an organization that helps non-profits fundraise.

FirstGiving’s mission is “to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities,” according to its website. 

Iowa State was one of the largest donors to the cause last year. The greek community on campus raised more than $188,000 for Special Olympics Iowa.

Madison Finney, senior in graphic design and member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, has been the top fundraiser for the past two years and is runner-up to obtain a third plunger by raising $2,400 last year. She’s still on top this year with $1,200 raised for the cause.

“People say, ‘well its not saving lives,’” Finney said. “But they don’t have the same opportunities we have to go to college.”

Braiden Loreno, sophomore in supply chain management and member of Sigma Chi, has raised $875 this year, but said he has a goal of raising $1,000.

This is his second year participating in the Polar Bear Plunge, and he has quadrupled the amount he raised last year.

“This year I kind of went all out for it,” Loreno said. “Last year at Vespers, a special athlete spoke at the sermon, and that kind of hit it home.”

However, for Loreno, the cause was on his heart for years. One of Braiden’s best friends has a brother with autism who he still communicates with frequently.

Loreno’s Group, ACDZ, is the top fundraiser among the greeks, but that doesn’t put them at the top for all of the categories to qualify them to win. Every member must raise $75 to put them at 100 percent, but Loreno said he believes they can do it.

”It’s great to see that we’re the top fundraiser,” Loreno said.

In terms of her motivation to participate, Finney said all greeks are required to participate in the Polar Bear Plunge. However, the issue hits home for her because of her brother Arthur, who was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 years old.

“Having a brother with autism made me have to grow up faster,” Finney said. “You’re totally responsible for another person.”

If they weren’t taking short walks to school, Madison and Arthur were watching Pixar movies, going on bike rides around the Des Moines area, cooking and going out to eat. Their bond continued to strengthen over the years.

“It could always be worse,” Finney said.

She said that luckily, Arthur has a family that loves him, because it could be so much worse. Finney is not only a cheerleader in Arthur’s personal life but also supports him on the sidelines of his Special Olympics events that he participates in every year.

Finney said she doesn’t plan to attend the Polar Bear Plunge event this year, but enjoys the fundraising. 

“I think it’s really rewarding to have a cause you’re really passionate for,” Finney said.

About 70 percent of the greek community at Iowa State is expected to attend the event Friday, which will include between 2,500 and 3,000 students, said Brandon Devine, president of Phi Kappa Theta and a sophomore in accounting.

In the past, the Polar Bear Plunge has taken place at Lake Laverne, but because of people’s displeasure for jumping in the lake water, things have changed. Last year was the first time Polar Bear Plunge was located at State Gym, creating a better turnout for the event.