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Polar Plunge Brings Together Aldermen, High Schoolers For Special Olympics

February 27, 2017 8:33am | Updated February 27, 2017 8:33am
Clare Murphy (left), Annabelle Hladik (bottom), Katie Alberts (right) and Ald. Matt O'Shea will all participate in the Polar Plunge on Sunday. The fundraiser supports Special Olympics Chicago.
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DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig

MOUNT GREENWOOD — Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) has asked fellow Chicago aldermen and high school athletes attending several schools servicing the 19th Ward to jump in the lake.

O'Shea will be participate Sunday in the Polar Plunge. The 17th annual event at North Avenue Beach raises money for Special Olympics Chicago. It's the largest fundraiser of the year for the charity that boasts 6,800 athletes.

Last year, O'Shea challenged his fellow members of City Council to join him. Calling themselves the Alderbears, nine aldermen joined O'Shea in jumping into Lake Michigan. The team raised $5,489.

The alderman already committed to submerging themselves in the icy waters this year include Ald. Patrick D. Thompson (11th), Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), Ald. Danny Solis (25th), Ald. Deb Mell (33rd), Ald. John Arena (45th), Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), Ald. Michael Scott, Jr. (24th), Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) and Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th).

The 2016 Polar Plunge team known as the Alderbears included Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), Ald. Patrick Thompson (11th), Ald. Matthew O’Shea (19th), Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), Ald. Michael Scott, Jr. (24th), Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th) Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st), Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) and Ald. Harry Osterman (48th).
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Besides politicians, O'Shea also reached out to several area high schools to invite them to participate in the Polar Plunge. Schools that have already accepted the challenge include Marist, Mother McAuley, Mount Carmel, St. Rita and St. Ignatius.

"I thought it was appropriate to challenge our high school student athletes. Basically, it's athletes supporting athletes," O'Shea said Friday.

He expects more than 100 such athletes to participate in the Polar Plunge. Many of them will wear their uniforms as they dive into the water. Clare Murphy of Mount Greenwood will likely wear her Mother McAuley soccer warm-up along with fellow team members as she jumps into the lake.

Murphy said her team is also participating in the Pepsico Showdown, a Chicago soccer tournament that encourages teams to give back through community service. The Polar Plunge helps her team satisfy this request.

"This year we are definitely working on coming together as a team. This is just a great bonding experience," Murphy said.

Katie Alberts of suburban Evergreen Park will also be there to dive into the lake with fellow members of the Mother McAuley water polo team. She said the pool at Brother Rice High School where her team practices is pretty cold too.

"We play a water sport. So it kinda makes sense," she said.

Annabelle Hladik, a senior from West Beverly is part of the Emerging MAC Leaders program. She will also participate in the Polar Plunge and was selling freeze pops in the Mother McAuley cafeteria Friday to raise money for the charity.

In each of the last three years, the Polar Plunge has raised more than $1 million for charity. For her part, Hladik was selling the sweet treats for $2.50 each. She is also hoping to sell them this week to hungry students at the all-girls Catholic school at 3737 W 99th St. in Mount Greenwood.

"I've never been this active in a fundraiser before," Hladik said.