We all have odd habits and silly traditions. These things are different for all of us. Some seek fun or nostalgia. Others are after comfort or excitement. The truly great traditions in life seem to check all those boxes though and many here at FlexTrades have found just such a thing with the Polar Plunge! Our participation started on a whim – coworkers supporting coworkers, looking to have some fun, do some good, and check off an essential bucket list item of life in the North. By our second year, in 2019, Team FlexTrades had officially become a thing and an annual event had been born.
This year marked a milestone for us, with our 5th consecutive event, and we wanted to celebrate it appropriately. How, though? Well, by doing what FlexTrades always does – setting a goal and smashing it!
What is the Polar Plunge?
The Polar Plunge is an annual event that occurs in many states across the northern US. Some places it’s called the Polar Bear Plunge. Regardless of what it’s called or where it happens, the plunge supports Special Olympics. These events normally happen with the assistance of local law enforcement associations to coordinate, prepare sites, and run events. Money raised is then directed to local Special Olympics organizations to help fund all their activities throughout the year. The financial impact of these events is more than significant – they’re outright critical. For example, all plunges in Minnesota this year have already raised almost $3.5 MILLION for Special Olympics Minnesota!
What Do You Actually Do?
An event can get elaborate, depending on location, but the act of plunging itself is straight-forward. First, volunteers cut a giant hole in a frozen lake then setup a giant inflatable polar bear tunnel and some grandstands. Next a local radio or TV station sends out someone to act as MC and host to guide the spectators (which can be anywhere from dozens to hundreds depending on the event) through the day’s activities. Finally, people with very warm hearts jump into very cold water for a great cause. Then they get out as quickly as they can and head for heated tents to change and celebrate! If this sounds like something you’d like to see or do, there are still events scheduled throughout the month of March and they’re totally free to attend!
How Did Team FlexTrades Do?
In our first four years our plunge team raised over $16,000 dollars total and was consistently among the top fundraising corporations at our event – despite being a very small team in comparison to most others. This made us want to shoot big, so we did. We pushed hard to grow our team and ended up with our largest group of participants, 24 plungers, ever! We had some team members that had participated in every plunge and some who were going to their first. We even had some attend in their first year with FlexTrades. Current FlexTrades teammates, former coworkers, parents, children – this year was a collective representation of a true “work family.” Then we started raising funds. Based on the commitments individual team participants made at registration, Team FlexTrades was aiming to raise $4k but we set a stretch goal of $5k and a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of $6,000. By plunge day we had exceeded all of them! Raising a final total of $6,087 made this our best plunge yet!
When it was all said and done, we had our most fundraisers ever, most individual donations ever, highest number of plungers into the water ever, most kids participating ever, raised our annual average to over $5k per year, AND had a great time!
What Happens to All That Money?
This Special Olympics Minnesota makes a little go a long way and every dollar raised via a Polar Plunge is redirected back to SOMN organizations to do just that! From providing medals for athletes to paying for meals to forming new SOMN delegations and covering travel expenses to state, national, and international games – plunge dollars help fund everything that’s necessary for the Special Olympics. Team FlexTrades couldn’t be prouder to be a small part of that!
If you want to learn more about the when and why behind the start of Team FlexTrades and our Polar Plunge participation, read our previous blog about it. If you have questions about the plunge, Special Olympics, donating/participating, or FlexTrades’ involvement, please send them to our Writing Team to get answers! And never forget the creed all Special Olympic Athletes live and compete by, “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”