Eastern teams prepare to plunge for Special Olympics fundraiser


By Kailee Dunn

On Feb. 22, three groups of EWU students will plunge into the icy waters of Liberty Lake, Wash., to support the Washington State Special Olympics programs.

The Polar Plunge is a series of fundraisers in Washington that help raise money for over 10,000 Special Olympic athletes. The Polar Plunge Spokane is one of eight plunges and is the fourth of the series. Participants in the plunge must  raise at least $50 in pledges to have the chance to take a dip in the waters of Liberty Lake.

The funds raised support athletes in many ways. For example, $2,500 provides healthy meals for all athletes participating in the Winter State Games, $650 provides training and competition for one athlete for a year and $50 allows an athlete to receive vital health screening during a Healthy Athletes event.

This year Eastern has three teams participating in the plunge: Project Unify, the football team and Occupational Therapy.

The football team kicked off their support of the event by raising funds in a telethon on Feb. 8, which raised around $800 in pledges. They  have been participating in the event since 2012.

Project Unify is a new club on the EWU campus, and this is the first time they are participating in the event. The club works to promote inclusion, unified sports and integrated activities which stems from a nationwide Special Olympics project.

Special Olympics Project Unify uses sports and education programs to encourage youth to develop school communities in which all youth are agents of change. The message of the project is to foster respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities.

Project Unify President Caitlin Rice explained the club is focusing on the education side of the project. One of the main campaigns they are taking part in is “spread the word to end the word” which works to end the use of the “r-word.”

“[Our goal] is to raise $1,500 and I believe we are almost there. We are $100 away or so,” said Rice.

The new Project Unify already has 10 members from its team raising funds and hopes to get 20 people to commit prior to the plunge. The club currently has several members from therapeutic recreation and are working to reach out to other majors on campus that are in related fields, such as special education.

“This is our biggest event so far and [we] are trying to do a big push to let as many people know we are here,” said Rice.

As of Feb. 17, EWU Project Unify had raised the most funds of any Eastern team and was third out of all the Spokane teams, raising over $1,900.

The Polar Plunge Spokane will be at noon at the Liberty Lake Regional Park.