The Port Jefferson high school varsity club raised around $9,500 for the Special Olympics last year. This year, as the club’s number of students swell, club advisers hope to do even better.
The annual Polar Plunge, which takes place at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai, is back again Nov. 23. Last year, the club sent 55 students into freezing cold waters, plus two advisers.
“As a club in its fourth year, doing it we had a really good experience,” said Jesse Rosen, club co-adviser and social studies teacher. “The level of ownership in helping another human being is an awesome thing.”
For this year’s event, the club has taken on some new recruits. This year 70 students will take the plunge, which represents close to 25 percent of the overall ninth through 12th grade population.
The Polar Plunge is run by the Special Olympics, where the money raised from the event goes toward supporting a Special Olympics athlete in sports training, and health and inclusion programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities looking to compete. The organization advertises that $400 will give enough funds for one athlete to train for a year.
“We were so proud to help sponsor over 20 people to compete in the Special Olympics,” Rosen said.
The growing participation has both club advisers excited about this weekend’s event.
“I think Jesse would agree that we are thrilled to have so many student athletes taking part in this year’s Polar Plunge,” co-adviser Deirdre Filippi said. “We couldn’t think of a better organization to support and we are ecstatic to see so many of our students rallying behind such a great cause.”
In addition to the Polar Plunge, the senior varsity club has been involved in the recent Powder Puff flag football game between the classes of 2020 and 2021, volleyball tournaments and assisting young people with special needs from the League of Yes, which creates baseball programs for kids with disabilities.
While the club does not have the final word on how much money it has raised this year, club advisers said they hope it continues to build even more after this year’s event.