Wilmette, Community

Sears students take on water and raise $17,000 with Polar Plunge; Wilmette police lead Gillson plunge once again

Freezing to prepare is preparing to freeze.

That was Martin Heffner’s motto before the Joseph Sears School assistant principal was dropped into a cauldron of cold water on Monday, March 20.

Amid 35-degree temperatures, Heffner was sporting shorts and said that his strategy was to already be cold by the time he was dunked as part of the school’s second Polar Plunge fundraiser, sponsored by the Joseph Sears School Parents Volunteer Association.

Violet A. pushes the dunk-tank’s button to drop Sears School Asst. Principal Martin Heffner into the tank.

Heffner was one of four — three Sears staffers and Kenilworth Police Chief Bryan Carlson — who braved the dunk tank Monday, when the school celebrated raising more than $17,000 for the Special Olympics of Illinois.

Sears students also got in on the soggy fun, either running through a series of kiddie pools or enduring cold water getting poured over their heads.

Henry, a student at Sears School, is hit with the cold water during the event.

The first to face the bucket of water was fifth-grader Piper Nelson, who raised a school-best $3,815. Nelson has a twin brother with special needs and he loves the water, she said.

“One day we hope he can swim in the Special Olympics,” she told the school.

With the $17,000 in donations, school set a new high for its Polar Plunge, which Joseph Sears launched last year and raised more than $16,000.

The event’s top fundraiser, fifth-grader Piper Nelson, was the first to receive the bucket of water on Monday.

A day earlier, on Sunday, March 19, close to 300 courageous fundraisers ran into Lake Michigan from Gillson Beach in Wilmette for a Polar Plunge organized by the Wilmette Park District and Wilmette Police Department.

It was the second year Gillson Beach was an official regional site for the Polar Plunge and plungers came from all over to raise more than $65,000 for Special Olympics Illinois.

Wilmette Police Department members get ready to go into the freezing waters of Lake Michigan on Sunday, March 19, at Gillson Beach.

Whether through the Polar Plunge or Torch Run, the Wilmette Police Department has long supported Special Olympics Illinois. Sunday’s festivities combined the two events, and the department raised $6,790 to support the cause.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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