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Bracing the freezing waters to spread awareness

by Paul Cifonelli
Tue, Feb 5th 2019 04:00 pm
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The annual Polar Plunge is just around the corner and The College at Brockport is once again going to be represented at the event. The Polar Plunge is taking place on Sunday, Feb. 10 at Ontario Beach Park in Rochester, New York. Registration for the event begins at 9 a.m. and goes until 11:30 a.m. The actual plunge takes place at 12 p.m.

The Polar Plunge is an annual event that takes place nationwide during January and February. Many other cities, regardless of the climate, take part in the plunge. Some of these cities include Virginia Beach, Virgina, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and San Diego, California. All the Polar Plunge events that occur across the country benefit the Special Olympics.

The Special Olympics has a special connection to Brockport. The village and school hosted the Special Olympic games back in 1979. More than 30 countries sent athletes to Brockport to compete in the week-long event. There was only two days in which events took place, but the week ended with all the athletes and their chaperones taking a trip to Niagara Falls.

As a result of hosting the Special Olympics, the college received two statues from Soviet artist Zurab Tserateli. Tserateli was invited to teach a course at Brockport before making the sculptures. One sculpture,  which was named “Prometheus,” is located between the Special Events and Recreation Center (SERC) and Drake Memorial Library. 

The other sculpture, “Joy and Happiness to All the Children of the World,” was placed between the Liberal Arts Building and the SERC. These sculptures are the only gifts the United States have ever received from the Soviet Union.

The Brockport Polar Plunge team is led by members of Brockport Student Government (BSG), including Maddie Petherick and Sarah Martelle. Petherick says the team is bigger this year than it was last year, with about 25 participants. While that number will pale in comparison to many other groups, improving numbers is a positive for Brockport’s team. 

While the participation is great, Martelle said they have a goal of raising $3,000 through donations and sponsorships. She appreciates that the money raised is going to the Special Olympics and feels as though it can bring the community together.

“The Special Olympics is something that Brockport holds near and dear to its heart,” Martelle said. “It instills Brockport values into the students and brings the college community together, especially since the students can all be on one team.”

With so many people involved in the event, there is plenty of opportunity for new bonds to be formed. It is expected that over 1,000 people will attend the event. While some will not be taking the plunge themselves, they will serve as support for those who do. Petherick enjoyed seeing everybody that was taking the plunge with her during her first experience.

“I did the plunge for the first time last year,” Petherick said. “It was actually the biggest fundraiser Brockport had. My favorite part was seeing everyone lined up in the water. The amount of hype to do something ‘cool’ was inspiring because we were all doing it for the same cause.”

For anybody who has interest in signing up to be a member of the Brockport team or donate to the team, going online and searching “2019 Rochester New York Polar Plunge” will lead you to the correct website.

The team will also be in residence halls and dining halls around campus doing fundraisers. They will also host an open skate at the Ice Arena at the SERC on Saturday, Feb. 9.


pcifo1@brockport.edu | @pcifonelli

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