On a chilly Saturday afternoon on February 26, Melissa Conrad ’12 of Lake Zurich, Illinois, took an icy dip into Lake Andrea near Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, for a fundraiser benefitting the Special Olympics Wisconsin program.
Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with cognitive disabilities, according to the organization’s website.
Conrad and approximately 500 others made the freezing jump as participants in the “Polar Plunge,” an annual event for Special Olympics Wisconsin that happens at various locations throughout the state. She learned of the event through a friend and took the opportunity to fundraise and ‘plunge’ with 17 other college students in her group.
“Being involved with the program has really taught me to be very conscious when it comes to taking life for granted,” said Conrad. “It’s reinforced that every day and every gift I have is precious and has shown me that there are so many ways to get involved with helping others in need.”
Conrad was able to raise $95, adding to her team’s total of $1,165.
“From this experience, I’ve learned two things – one being that jumping into a freezing-cold lake in the middle of winter is in fact as crazy as it sounds,” she said. “The second lesson is this: doing that crazy thing to raise money and awareness and give those who may not otherwise have an opportunity to participate in the Special Olympics was worth every second of not being able to feel my toes.”