Taking the plunge
By Patte Smith; photos courtesy of Jerome Price
Six committed Rocky Canyon High School (RCHS) special education assistants raced headlong – maybe tip-toed – into freezing cold slush for the Polar Plunge at Aurora Reservoir in support of Special Olympics Colorado.
The 2020 Unified Canyon team, led by Coach Jerome Price, included first-time plungers Kristin Acker, Theresa Crump, Emily Roessel and Jolynn Duris, as well as Nick Mahan – assistant varsity basketball coach and Gabriel Ware – head freshman basketball coach. Joining the team was Darby Jester, a sophomore swimmer and peer coach for Unified Sports and her step-brother Rylan Anderson, an eighth grader from West Middle School.
Price has participated in the Polar Plunge since 2014 when he was part of Unified Sports at Douglas County High School. “I decided to continue each year to raise funds together with fellow co-workers. I did this when I worked at Highlands Ranch High School and now at Rock Canyon. My first year I raised $175 in donations, and the last four years our teams have raised over $4,000 in donations.”
The RCHS teachers jumped right in to join Price in making a difference for the young athletes. “They were all excited to support a great cause, and Duris, Crump and Acker ran the 5K before the plunge,” stated Price. “When my teammates saw my photos from past years, they were inspired. They realized, as I did, that these young athletes get the chance to interact with other people and make new friends. It is great,” stated Price.
After the plunge, the team was all smiles, a little wet and in good spirits. “It was not as cold as it was last year,” smiled Price. “Our team had a great time and even though we didn’t meet our goal of being the top fundraising team, we were the highest fundraising school, raising $8,400. There is always next year and a new goal ahead.”
Each year, the Polar Plunge challenges thousands of brave teams at numerous locations around the state to take the plunge to make a difference for nearly 25,000 Special Olympics Colorado athletes. Funds raised through the Polar Plunge help support programs such as Young Athletes, Unified Sports, Healthy Athletes and Athlete Leadership programs.