Highland FOP and Friends had the best team costume and Highland Police Department Sgt. Aric Steinbeck was honored with the best individual costume at the 2017 Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge and 5K Donut Dash benefiting Special Olympics Illinois Southwestern Area 12 on Feb. 25 at Carlyle Lake.
More than 390 “plungers” and 83 “dashers” joined forces raising $93,300 supporting 1,200 athletes with intellectual disabilities in Bond, Calhoun, Clinton, Fayette, Jersey, Madison, Monroe, Montgomery, St. Clair and Washington counties.
The annual Polar Plunge is a unique opportunity for participants to support Special Olympics athletes by raising a minimum of $100 to jump into the icy waters of an Illinois lake. In conjunction with the plunge, the inaugural 5K Donut Dash tested runners’ speed and their ability to eat donuts. Dashers paid a $30 registration fee to run the 5K that included donut stops along the route, reducing racers’ times based on donut consumption. All plungers received a Polar Plunge sweatshirt, and dashers earned a Dri-Fit race shirt in addition to free admission into the Post-Plunge Party.
The first-place winners in each age division for males and females received medals for the Donut Dash. The overall men’s winner was Alex Huegen with an adjusted time 21.43 (three donuts consumed for a 3-minute deduction). The women’s overall winner was Sarah Pingsterhaus with a time of 26:55. All race results are available at runningstartsports.com.
HHS teachers, students raise funds
Highland High School’s National Honor Society, sponsored by teachers Hilary Wagenblast and Susanne Himsel, sent six teachers plunging into the cold of Carlyle Lake at the annual Special Olympics Polar Plunge.
Teachers, coaches, and administrators who participated in fundraising efforts and the plunge include Caleb Houchins, Chris Becker, Michele Heinz, Matt Elledge, Matt Lewis, Danielle Case, Todd Strong, Austin Welz, and Mike Arbuthonot.
NHS raised $800 for the event. NHS students collected money over their lunch hours, as well as at a boys basketball game, and students were asked to donate money for the teacher they most wanted to see plunge. Seventy-five students in NHS also volunteered for the event.
“They directed traffic while I parked my car, helped check me in as a plunger, helped folks along the way, sold raffle tickets, and cheered enthusiastically while we jumped into a cold lake. It was for a great cause, but if our kids wouldn’t have helped, I am not sure the day could have proceeded as smoothly as it did,” said Heinz, who teaches business and technology at HHS. “I was so proud to see my students helping everywhere. It made me really proud to be a Bulldog.”
Polar Plunge Awards
▪ Best Individual Costume: Aric Steinbeck (Highland FOP and Friends)
▪ Best Team Costume: Highland FOP and Friends
▪ Most Money Raised by an Individual: Steve Whritenour (Centralia Police Department) $2,920
▪ Most Money Raised by a Team: Team TBird $7,219
▪ Gold Bear Cool School Challenge: Wesclin Wacky Warriors $4,478
▪ Top Cop- Most Money Raised by a Police Officer: Steve Whritenour (Centralia Police Department) $2,920
▪ Top Gun Trophy- Most Money Raised by a Police Department: O’Fallon Police Department $6,846