As advertised, members of the Sheridan community got “freezin’ for a reason” on March 23 at Davis Campus for the Polar Plunge. In front of a crowd of cheering onlookers on a brisk afternoon, nearly 40 students, employees and community members stepped up in support of Special Olympics Ontario by jumping into a dumpster filled with water.
Azhar Ali, Davis Campus Executive Vice President at the Sheridan Student Union (SSU) was the student lead on the event and took on the role with enthusiasm. He had been approached by the Peel Regional Police, long-time Polar Plunge supporters, about rallying students and employees to get behind the cause. Working with the Student Affairs Office, Ali and a team of organizers got Sheridan’s first Polar Plunge event off the ground.
“As important as our internal events are at Sheridan, collaborating with external community partners promotes inclusivity, allows us to become allies with these organizations and learn more about what they do,” says Ali. In addition to having the support of the Peel Regional Police and Special Olympics Ontario, the Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run (OLETR) came forward as a sponsor.
Plungers collected donations from family and friends leading up to the event and got creative with their costumes and props. Maria Lucido-Bezely, Dean of Students, took the plunge dressed in double-blue Sheridan swag and Wonder Woman accessories and did so as one of the top three fundraisers. “I was quite nervous about the actual plunge,” she says. “I normally wouldn’t go into a pool if the water isn’t above 85 degrees! However I’m always up for a challenge. But it really was cold. Climbing out was the most frigid.”
Other participants included members of Sheridan’s Facilities and Athletics departments, the Security team, and students from the SSU and Police Foundations program. “I think it’s important to collectively demonstrate our commitment to social responsibility within and outside of our campus communities,” says Lucido-Bezely. “This particular cause – Special Olympics – is about helping talented people successfully overcome challenges, reach their goals and achieve their personal best. For most of us at Sheridan, those are things that motivate us every day.”
With the success of the first Sheridan Polar Plunge, there’s already discussions about making this an annual event on campus. “The atmosphere was positive and everyone was energized,” says Ali. “And we beat our fundraising goal of $10,000, which is a bonus to having a fun, community-building event. I hope many of the students who watched from the sidelines will consider participating next year. And there’s plenty of time to brainstorm a creative way to take the plunge!”
Pictured at top of page: Maria Lucido-Bezely, Dean of Students at Sheridan (second from right) with other Polar Plunge attendees. Photo by Kate Dockeray.
Written by: Keiko Kataoka, Digital Communications Officer at Sheridan