How much would you pay to see clowns, superheroes and princesses all hurling themselves into a hole cut into the ice of a nearly frozen lake?
How much would you pay to see a fellow employee?
That’s the question Laura Wilson, credentialing coordinator for the occupational therapy team at CompHealth allied health staffing in Grand Rapids, Mich., asks each year as she dons her costume and takes a pledge, or rather a plunge, for the Special Olympics of Michigan.
Last Saturday, Laura participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) Polar Plunge series. Proceeds from the plunges, which take place all over Michigan, help support year-round sports training and athletic competition for more than 20,670 children and adults involved in the Special Olympics of Michigan.
“Basically I asked everybody and anybody I know to donate,” Laura explains. “When the day of the plunge comes, I get dressed up in my costume and jump into a hole cut in the ice, climb out with the help of the firefighters floating in the water and then run to the mobile hot tubs.”
As far as polar plunges go, Laura is a veteran. Her icy dunking on Saturday was her fifth time participating in the LETR Polar Plunge series. Her previous costumes have included a tropical bird, Lucy Ricardo, Alvin and the Chipmunks and a hula dancer.
Laura first heard about the Polar Plunge when her sister signed up. Laura may have been content to merely cheer her sister on from her warm and very dry seat, but on hearing a speech from a gold medal winner from the previous Special Olympics Games, Laura knew she had to get in on the action.
“The speaker gave a short speech about her experience in the games and how grateful she was to all the volunteers for raising money,” Laura says. “Her speech really struck a chord with me and afterwards, I told my sister I wanted to join her next year and help raise funds!”
Since then, her sister has moved, but Laura continues to participate and has even recruited friends to join her. Each year, she has been able to surpass her donation goal. Due to problems with too much ice breaking, Laura was unable to actually make the jump this year, but she still showed up as “Red” from Fraggle Rock and, more importantly, raised $810 for the Special Olympics.
“It’s amazing how willing people are to donate after hearing what it’s about,” Laura says.