Several gasps and a lot of shivering by Cherokee Nation marshals and Sequoyah High School staff were evident February 23 as both groups dove into a frigid Illinois River.
The groups took part in the statewide “Polar Plunge” fundraising event to raise money to send athletes to the Special Olympics. Cherokee Nation marshals and a few Sequoyah faculty and students, together raised more than $3,000 for the cause.
“We were not excited about jumping into cold water, but we were excited about what this means to the Special Olympian we are supporting from our area, which is really important to us,” said Cherokee Nation Marshal Service Executive Director Shannon Buhl, according to a Cherokee Nation press release. “In helping this cause, we actually get to see who benefits from our suffering of jumping into freezing water. “
The Cherokee Nation Marshal Service had the largest group participate in the Tahlequah fundraiser with 20 participants. The Tahlequah event raised a total $10,000 for athletes to buy uniforms and help with travel and lodging.
Sequoyah had four faculty and two students from the school’s H.O.P.E. (Honoring Our Peoples’ Existence) Club participate for the first year.
“We really wanted to promote awareness for supporting Special Olympics throughout the school,” said club sponsor Tonya Soap, in the release. “We have a student at Sequoyah that competes at the Special Olympics of Oklahoma, and so we have some personal interest in supporting him and other athletes in the state. The Polar Plunge was a fun way for our students to show their support.”
The Tahlequah Polar Plunge was just one of 11 held statewide with an overall goal of raising $300,000. Also participating were Tahlequah Public Schools, Northeastern State University, Tahlequah’s Special Olympics team and more. Donations can still be made to SOOK online at Sook.org.