Students came together to support Special Olympics by jumping in the icy water.
Students came together to support Special Olympics by jumping in the icy water.
Jennifer Martinez

DGS takes the plunge for Special Olympics

DGS students and staff participated in a Polar Plunge. (William Elliott)

Cheers echoed through the stadium as students and staff plunged into the icy cold water in support of Special Olympics.

DGS hosted their first Polar Plunge on March 20 during the lunch periods. The event is a part of Respect week and was run by Unified, a club at DGS. Unified works closely with the Special Olympics of Illinois in order to promote inclusion in schools.

Philip Pakowski is the current sponsor for Unified at DGS and took the plunge himself.

“Unified and Respect week is really focused on making sure that students with special needs have access to the same extracurricular activities as well as the same classes and experiences that a general education student would have. Unified is partnering with this polar plunge to kind of make respect week more visible and so having a school wide event that people can participate in really helps with that,” Pakowski said.

Students had the opportunity to participate in the polar plunge, as long as they raised $100 to donate to the Special Olympics. DGS as a whole aimed to reach their goal of $20,000 total. When students raised the $100 they were given a hoodie and the chance to participate in the polar plunge.

Something called the Angel Fund was started in order to allow those who cannot raise $100, the opportunity to participate still. The money will fill in what participants weren’t about to raise. The Angel Fund also allows people to donate money to the cause, even if they don’t want to participate.

Several students and staff members are participating in the event, including Associate Principal for Student Support Services, Sara Courington.

“The Special Olympics is near and dear to my heart, I think their work over time really is just a testament to just how awesome the organization is and how important it is to just be a welcoming and inclusive school community or society. They are really looking for the advancement of people with disabilities in all spheres of life,” Courington said.

The set up involved a small inflatable pool, with a slip and slide leading right up to it.

The Special Olympics has been around for years; staff and students here at DGS aim to make people with disabilities feel included in the classroom. Many students work with the multi needs students here at DGS in order to include them in everyday activities. Some of those students include seniors Madilynn Corey and Leah Tannhauser.

Tannhauser in particular formed a very close relationship with the students she works with.

“Every day I see the joy, confidence and sense of belonging that these opportunities bring to individuals with diverse abilities. It’s this experience that has fueled my desire to extend these opportunities to more people. I am willing to do anything for these kids, even if it means stepping out of my comfort zone,” Tannhauser said.

The set up involved a small inflatable pool, with a slip and slide leading right up to it. (Jennifer Martinez)
Senior Leah Tannhauser is taking the plunge in support of the kids she works closely with.
Senior Leah Tannhauser is taking the plunge in support of the kids she works closely with. (Leah Tannhauser)

Tannhauser is a big supporter of the Special Olympics and their goal to include everyone no matter what.

“I believe the specific cause of the polar plunge for the Special Olympics is therefore the organization’s mission of empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities through sports. By taking the plunge you are helping provide inclusion of sport opportunities, promoting acceptance and inclusion for our special friends worldwide,” Tannhauser said.

— Leah Tannhauser

Leah Tannhauser and Ellen Toohey raised the most money with $350 and $500, respectively.

Corey also works with kids in the multi-needs classes at DGS. She believes that working with them and integrating them into general education classes is important.

“I have loved advocating for multi needs, I think part of my personality is about bringing together multi-need students and general education students. So I think the polar plunge is a really good way to do that,” Corey said.

As a school, DGS raised $8,100 total out of their $20,000 goal, with the top donors being Tannhauser and freshman Ellen Toohey.

Leah Tannhauser and Ellen Toohey raised the most money with $350 and $500, respectively. (Jennifer Martinez)
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About the Contributor
Caitlin Spindler, News Editor
Senior Caitlin Spindler is a first year News Editor for the DGS Blueprint. Spindler is an honor roll student and is also a member of the DGS/DGN lacrosse team and a club lacrosse program. Spindler took Journalistic Expression her junior year which continued to prove her love for journalism and further validated her plan to pursue a career in journalism after high school. During her time in Journalistic Expression, Spindler also freelanced articles for the Blueprint. Anything to do with writing has been something that has interested Spindler for as long as she can remember. When she isn’t writing, you will find Spindler spending time with the ones she’s the closest to. Spindler also spends a lot of time perfecting her lacrosse skills, working at Cadence Kitchen & Co. or volunteering at her church. She looks to further her journalism skills this year on the Blueprint.

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