Freezin’ for a Reason: The 2023 Polar Plunge


Mike Hasch

The Cathedral High School volunteers that attended the Polar Plunge

Mary Murphy, Reporter

The Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Indiana is an annual fundraising event where volunteers raise money and run into freezing water to support Special Olympic athletes. 24 years and counting, thousands of people have braved the cold to support these athletes. 

At Cathedral High School, the “Champions Together” club sent nine volunteers to take the plunge. Champions Together consists of volunteering for Special Olympic events throughout the year. These events include basketball, bocce ball, bowling, and much more. On Friday March 3rd, 2023, the annual 2023 Polar Plunge took place at Eagle Creek Reservoir. It was quite a yucky day when it comes to weather. Rainy, cold, and extra muddy, volunteers from all over the state came together to jump in frozen water for a good cause. A total of 14 high schools and two middle schools plunged on Friday. Five more high schools plunged on Saturday. 

Before the plunge, there were activities for the volunteers to do before they took on the cold challenge. There was a bingo board handed to all of the volunteers filled with things like face paint, signing the “Inclusion Banner”, “Helping Hands” posters, high-fiving the coordinator, meeting a new friend, and much more. The volunteers were told to partner up and try to complete the board quickly. When they get a bingo, they slowly earn their prizes with the overall goal of doing every activity on the bingo board. 

 What wasn’t on the board, but everyone experienced, was slipping in mud. One of the most memorable things of the day, apart from the cold, was watching everyone slip in mud together. One Cathedral, Bryce Hahn, Class of 2024, volunteer said  “We were expecting heavy rain that day, but unfortunately none of us thought far enough ahead that with rain came mud. Most people were in slides, and so, as a result, everyone was slipping and sliding. I nearly had to throw out my sweatpants because they were so drenched in mud!”

With this tradition being an annual event for 24 years, it is very organized. There was a line up of which schools went when and places for everyone to be while waiting. Eagle Creek was full of smiles, music, laughter, and shivers all day long. They were celebrating differences while all sharing the love and passion for Champions Together. 

We are there for a cause that not many teenagers these days are very involved in.”

— Meg Hasch

Cathedrals nine volunteers headed down to the preparation tent in the rain for their 11 o’clock plunge. The tip to the Polar Plunge is to just go for it! They walked down the stairs and headed into the water. The goal is to high-five at least one of the nine firefighters stationed in the water for safety.  Most of the Cathedral participants went to every Firefighter and dunked their heads under the water for the full freezing experience. 

So why do the Polar Plunge? Like most things in life, there is usually a bigger picture. Jumping in cold water for charity seems a bit extensive but according to Isabelle Lyons, class of 2025 and Champions Together member, said, “It is totally worth it.” This specific Polar Plunge works with Special Olympics of Indiana and all of the proceeds go directly to the athletes’ funds to participate in the activities and sports that they love. 

  Senior Director of Unified Champion Schools ®, Mike Hasch explains, “What we love to see is that we see all of the interaction of the high schools that have joined. With it being Cathedrals third year, we have really seen them grow. The growth in participant numbers, and also the fundraising piece, has changed so much since the first year. Everything they fundraised gets turned back in and is provided for our schools to grow in unified sports and activities through Champions Together.” He also explains that his job consists of “overseeing all of the educational programming and unified activities and sports from Pre-K through college in Indiana.” Hasch spends his time creating undeniably amazing relationships with athletes in the Special Olympic community and dedicates his time to their athletic experience. 

Senior and President of Cathedral’s Champions Togethers club, Meg Hasch says, “Polar plunge really stands out to me when we have a whole community of high schoolers throughout the state that are just all gathering together for the same cause from all age levels. We are there for a cause that not many teenagers these days are very involved in.” Meg is very dedicated to the club and one of the reasons that the club for Cathedral is thriving. 

The Polar Plunge is an experience that touches many hearts. Not to mention, watching a bunch of high schoolers run into super cold water and hearing the screams and reactions is priceless.  The Polar Plunge 2023 was a huge success. Cathedral High School had a great performance and might even come out of it with the banner!