For our committed Polar Plungers like those with RENEW 159, the changes brought about this year due to the pandemic were not going to get in their way of supporting Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes.
Even though they didn’t get to jump into a freezing Lake Monona like they like to this time of year, the young workers committee of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 159 labor union was thrilled to be involved once again in the Madison-area fundraiser.
“This has been a long-standing tradition for us at Local 159. I’ve been doing it since 2015, the first year that we plunged. We’ve been doing it every year since then,” Joshua Stern said. “We challenge each other to see who’s going to jump and take on the cold. We just keep coming back year after year.”
Their team of three was game for a unique and social distancing-friendly event this year. On February 13, they were among the 100+ participants who “plunged” down the 800-foot-long tubing hill at Tyrol Basin outside of Madison.
“We stayed pretty warm because there’s a lot of good energy here keeping us warm and happy.” – RENEW 159 team captain, Pablo Baxter
While it was different, Mitchell Johnson of RENEW 159 enjoyed the 2021 version of the Plunge. “It was great. We had a fun time going down the hill,” Johnson said after tubing. “It’s a little bit cold out here, but that’s not going to stop us.”
Ah, the cold. Mother Nature did her part to put the freezin in the “freezin for a reason” taking place at Tyrol Basin. Plungers who thought they might be getting off easy this year were met with temps that hovered around zero degrees throughout the day.
The RENEW 159 team captain, Pablo Baxter, had an upbeat attitude about it all that seemed to be common among the brave plungers at Tyrol. “We’re very experienced plungers so even though we changed it up a little bit this year, we’re ready, we’re dressed for the cold,” Baxter said at the event. “We stayed pretty warm because there’s a lot of good energy here keeping us warm and happy.”
While the team was smaller than it might be in a normal year, their commitment to the athletes of Special Olympics Wisconsin was still impressive. They raised nearly $1,000 and for the second year in a row, RENEW 159 served as a supporting sponsor of the event. Since beginning in 2015, they have helped raise more than $20,000 for the Polar Plunge with the help of their membership and the greater community.
For Baxter, none of this is surprising given what he knows about RENEW 159’s giving-back nature. “We’re a member-driven committee who is dedicated to supporting the communities where we live and work,” Baxter said. “We think Special Olympics Wisconsin is a great organization and the Polar Plunge is a wonderful event.”