YORK, PA – The York College athletic department had 73 student-athletes participate in the 2013 Polar Bear Plunge in Wrightsville on Saturday, January 9. The Spartans raised $5,389 for the Special Olympics York County as part of their partnership with the organization.
The event featured 1,500 plungers into the icy waters of the Susquehanna River. Those plungers raised $140,000 for the York County Special Olympics in the annual event.
The Spartan athletic department won the Golden Plunger Award signifying the largest group of participants. Student Athlete Advisory Council (S.A.A.C) advisor Brandon Childs and the council’s executive counsel spearheaded and organized the York College Plunge efforts.
“Our partnership with the Special Olympics represents the best of what sports have to offer,” says Childs. “Using sports as a way to connect people for a common goal can generate unforgettable moments. Whether it be winning a game, winning a race, or jumping into freezing cold water, York College Athletics is about seeking excellence and this partnership gives us an opportunity to be excellent.”
For the first time, the Grumbacher Sport & Fitness Center will host the Special Olympics York County’s Spring Games on Saturday, May 11.
Assistant Dean for Athletics and Recreation Paul Saikia believes in the importance of the Spartan student-athletes working with the Special Olympics.
“We are fortunate that our affiliation with Special Olympics has been such a natural fit. I'm really impressed with our student-athletes for embracing the opportunity to make a difference--collectively, they are quite a force. We have a lot more to look forward to as we move on to the second phase of our effort--hosting the games this spring. Our athletes will have a chance to help in the most direct way, which will not only be fun and a great exercise in sharing good will, but a real reminder of just how privileged we are.”
Senior women’s tennis player Megan McCullin (New Windsor, Md./Westminster Senior), a member of the York S.A.A.C., was excited to participate in the event with a number of other Spartan student-athletes.
“I was really excited to hear that York College Athletics would be participating in the Polar Bear Plunge this year,” said McCullin. “It was awesome to know that YCP athletics raised over $5,000 in donations. More importantly, it was incredible to see so many of my fellow student-athletes plunging into the Susquehanna to raise money and awareness for the Special Olympics.”
McCullin also feels that community service gives student-athletes a new perspective on what they do as collegiate athletes.
“For me, doing community service is very humbling. Too often, I take for granted all the blessings that I have, such as the opportunity to participate in athletics. I love being a student-athlete and I get so much enjoyment out of playing a sport. To be able to support the Special Olympics in providing individuals with disabilities that same enjoyable opportunity is invaluable and so very rewarding.”
Saikia was happy with his participating student-athletes.
“The kids were awesome and represented us, as always, with pride. It was great to hear the crowd chanting YCP as they marched toward the water. It was really cold. I felt guilty for about five seconds that I did not jump in too. We won the ‘Golden Plungers Award’ for having the most participants. It doesn't look like most of our other trophies, but we are proud of it!”
The Special Olympics York County (SOYC) provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for persons with intellectual disabilities. York County currently has approximately 300 athletes who participate in one or more of the 14 sports offered. The program is run entirely by volunteers, who bring their time and talents to coaching, event organizing, management and fundraising.