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Public Safety participates in Pittsburgh Polar Plunge

The Duquesne Duke

Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 23:12


Fred Blauth/Photo Editor

The third annual Pittsburgh Polar Plunge was held outside of Heinz Field Sunday. Nine members of Duquesne’s Public Safety department took place in the plunge.

Nine members of Duquesne’s Public Safety department participated in the Pittsburgh Polar Plunge Sunday afternoon, dipping into the Ohio River to raise money for Special Olympics projects in the city.

In its third year, the Plunge, hosted by the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Torch Run and Special Olympics Pennsylvania, brought out a record-setting 1,600 participants. It raised over $350,000, surpassing last year’s $260,000.

Money raised from the Plunge benefits Special Olympics PA and their efforts to provide training and competition programs for adults and children with intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics PA event coordinator Carrie Hucker, who organized the plunges in Pittsburgh and Laurel Highlands, said that the Plunge is the largest fundraising event for the organization.

“Proceeds from this event will support over 20,000 athletes across the state,” Hucker said. “All training and competition opportunities are provided free of charge to the athletes and their families, enabling everyone to experience the benefits of Special Olympics that extend well beyond the playing field.

Public Safety members Robert Brown, Jaclyn DeNardo, John Helch, Jeffrey Kardos, Joe Palmer, Amanda Schaefers, Mattie Selkowitz, Lee Speer and team captain Carl Stivenson were among the plungers outside Heinz Field.

The department got involved with the event in 2010, when Stivenson participated by himself. He brought Helch with him in 2011, and a whole team this year. DeNardo, the department’s business manager, said she hopes the University’s participation keeps expanding.

“It’s not just something law enforcement can do. We encourage anyone from the University to do this,” DeNardo said. “We are hoping that it continues to grow.”

Growth was a common theme of this year’s event, as both Special Olympics Pennsylvania and Public Safety surpassed their donation goals. Stevinson said the team’s goal was originally $800, which it more than doubled with $1,765.

Before the Plunge, friends and family of the participants could visit the event’s webpage and “sponsor a plunger” to help them reach their fundraising goals. Plungers with the most sponsors raised the most money. As a motivator, participants were offered rewards at different levels of accumulated donations. At the minimum $50 level, the plunger received a long sleeved t-shirt.

This year, there were 17 ‘Super Plungers’ who raised at least $2,500. By doing so, they were able to plunge “every hour on the hour for 24 hours,” according to Hucker.  

Individually, Stevinson brought in $550, the highest amount on the team. DeNardo was second with $405 and Kardos was third with $250.

The highest earning law enforcement plunge team, the Pittsburgh Police Zone 6 Polar Police, raised $49,014 and Scott Schubert, their commander, led all individual fundraisers with $25,392. The WDVE team led all non-law enforcement plunge crews with $11,315.

As for the water, DeNardo and Stivenson agreed that even though the air temperature was in the high 50s, the water was still “freezing.”

“The water will take your breath away, but it’s worth it,” Stevinson said. “We called it ‘Chillin’ for a Cause’ and ‘Freezin’ for a Reason.’”

Organizers offered games, live entertainment and food in a setting called Plunge Town. DeNardo said the event had a “fair atmosphere,” while Stivenson compared it to a “big tailgate party.”


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