McDowell is raising money for the unified track team through the 5th annual Polar Plunge. Students can donate money to make McDowell principals Brian Fuller and Dr. John Cavanagh jump into the freezing waters of Lake Erie in the name of the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania. Whichever principal raises the most money will freeze on Nov. 16 along with other participants from across Erie county.
On a unified track and field team students with and without intellectual abilities compete alongside each other. The Special Olympics of Pennsylvania supports the unified teams at schools throughout the state. Since there are now two unified track teams at McDowell, the indoor and outdoor teams, they need all the support they can get. All profits go straight to the Special Olympics and dispersed into different sub groups.
As of Oct. 28, the Polar Plunge event raised $15,894 out of its $100,000 goal, and the McDowell unified track team has raised $740 of its $15,000 goal. Dr. Cavanagh is currently in the lead for donations having raised $222. All are encouraged to donate, participate and attend the event.
Daniel Wirley, a special education teacher at McDowell Intermediate High School is raising money for the event because of his love for the unified track team.
“I think that the students who volunteer and participate in the unified track program are the leaders for tomorrow, because they sacrifice their self image and social freedom to create new friendships,” Wirley says.
He also describes the unified track team as “an excellent example of how society should treat and interact with individuals with disabilities.”
To gain the attention of students and encourage them to donate, Wirley charged students to duct tape him to a pole in the MIHS Commons on Nov. 7 and 8. For a $1 donation, students could go once around the pole with duct tape one time, $5 for five times, and $10 for however many times a student could tape him around the pole in 30 seconds.
Directions for anyone interested in taking the plunge can be found online at specialolympicspa.org/polar-bear-plunge.