U. of I. Police officers take a plunge for Special Olympics

CHAMPAIGN — Several officers from the University of Illinois Police Department and other members of the Division of Public Safety braved the cold at Memorial Stadium on Saturday to take a plunge for Special Olympics Illinois.

Pools of frigid water were set up for the inaugural Fighting Illini Polar Plunge, where students, police and other organizations took a dive to raise money for people with intellectual disabilities.

Temperatures were around 40 degrees when participants jumped in — a bit of a reprieve from the subzero temperatures just a day before, but chilly nonetheless.

“It was cold, but several of us took the challenge to ‘be bold and get cold’ for Special Olympics, including officers, a sergeant, housing security and student patrol,” said Officer Beth Visel. “Together, we have raised over $3,500 for Special Olympics at the Illini Plunge.”

That figure was enough to earn U. of I. Police the “Most Raised Law Enforcement” award at the event.

Visel said she has seen the impact the donations have on the athletes after attending the Special Olympics summer games in 2014.

“Not only does Special Olympics raise awareness, it also allows athletes to participate in area and statewide events building lifelong friendships along the way,” Visel said. “The smiles that come to their faces as the athletes are presented their medals and ribbons is simply priceless.”