Their friends at the Verona Fire Department helped to make it an extra creative effort in the Chillin’ at Home option of this year’s Plunge. The committee gathered on a cold, wintry morning at the fire station, where the crew proceeded to hose the group down from the top of an extended rescue ladder.
“In public safety, there’s a longstanding relationship between police and fire and a friendly rivalry between the two. What firefighter wouldn’t love the opportunity to hose down a bunch of cops?” – Dane County Sheriff’s Deputy Shari Kaczmarski
It was a different way to be freezin’ for a reason for these veteran plungers, many of whom have been participating for more than a decade. However, it was important to them to find a way to keep the tradition alive and keep momentum going for Special Olympics Wisconsin’s largest fundraiser of the year.
Dane County Sheriff’s Deputy Shari Kaczmarski has been plunging since 2009. Despite all the obstacles this year presented with the pandemic, her and her fellow committee members knew they had to do something. As a longtime supporter and LETR member, she knows how much it means to the athletes to see communities rally around them every year in one of Wisconsin’s premier winter traditions. She also knows how much the programs the athletes love depend on the funds raised by the Polar Plunge.
“We wanted to do a virtual plunge to show our commitment and our solidarity with Special Olympics. It’s been a tough year for a lot of people and our profession is no exception to that,” Deputy Kaczmarski said. “This was our unique way of doing it (the Plunge). In public safety, there’s a longstanding relationship between police and fire and a friendly rivalry between the two. What firefighter wouldn’t love the opportunity to hose down a bunch of cops?”
“For me, my little bit of discomfort to jump into that freezing water and raise money for the athletes so that they can do those things that give them a sense of normalcy makes it all worth it to me.” – Deputy Kaczmarski
With that, they set out to work with the Verona Fire Department on making this fun and playful idea a reality. The committee stood in the freezing cold in the parking lot of the fire station while a Verona firefighter scaled the rescue ladder and turned on the hose, dumping gallons of icy water onto the brave group from 30 feet in the air.
Based on the reactions of the participants, the event did an effective job of simulating the bracing cold of the traditional Polar Plunge. But for LETR members like Kaczmarski, the few moments of intense cold are kind of the point.
“For me, my little bit of discomfort to jump into that freezing water and raise money for the athletes so that they can do those things that give them a sense of normalcy makes it all worth it to me,” Deputy Kaczmarski said.
Although you may not have access to a fire truck, you can get creative with your own DIY Plunge by registering for our Chillin’ at Home option in this year’s Polar Plunge. You must register & raise $75 by February 4 to receive the Cozy Kit full of items that will be perfect to get you warm and toasty after you take your DIY Plunge but fundraising goes until March 5.
For those of you who would prefer to do a unique in-person event or avoid icy water in the winter, we also have nine Great Outdoors locations available, where you can sled, tube or snowshoe, depending on the location.
For her part, Kaczmarski is excited to tube at Tyrol Basin in the Madison area on February 13.
“It’s an opportunity to get out and just have some fun with family, with friends. I’m looking forward to it,” Kaczmarski said. “I have a team of girlfriends that I organized through my gym that I’ll be plunging down the hill with and my husband’s got a work team that he’s organized. So we’re looking forward to just changing it up a little bit and see what it does for Special Olympics.”
Whether Chillin’ at Home or hitting the Great Outdoors, there are plenty of ways to support Special Olympics Wisconsin this year. It’s Your Adventure. Your Way.