Rallying behind a community: Special Olympics Dufferin

Three years ago, Special Olympics (SO) Dufferin curling coaches Kurt Carlson, Brian Johnston, and Brad Brown came up with the idea to participate in the Shelburne Polar Plunge. Since then, the group has plunged every year with their team growing along the way.  

While plunging has become a recurring yearly event for SO Dufferin, they also have incorporated their own fun tradition into the event: plunging in costume! “We had so much fun with the plunge, from creating our costumes to the actual day of the plunge,” said SO Dufferin Community Coordinator, Lisa Carlson. The various costume themes over the years helped the team create excitement and stimulate donations. “It is such a fun fundraiser and it is really only one day. When you show people you are committed to Special Olympics enough to Polar Plunge, they truly want to support you,” said Lisa. “You can’t get better than that!” 

This year, their Polar Plunge team consisted of: 

  • Kurt Carlson (Coach) 
  • Brian Johnston (Coach) 
  • Brad Brown (Coach) 
  • Victor Brown (Coach) 
  • Dylan Brown (Athlete) 
  • Lisa Carlson (Community Coordinator)  
  • Erin Woodley (Coach – she did not plunge this year, but certainly will join next year!) 

Although Polar Plunge went virtual this year, that did not stop SO Dufferin from accomplishing their plunging goals! Closing Polar Plunge 2021 with $6,020 raised in donations, SO Dufferin completely surpassed their original goal. “We set our original goal for $500,” said Lisa. “The pandemic has been so hard on so many financially, so we felt the jump would be for team spirit. When our total ended up over $6000, we were blown away!” It has truly been a humbling year for the teamSeeing the community come together in support of SO Dufferin has been more than what they ever could have asked for. “We have such a feeling of appreciation that others understand how important sport and fitness is to people with developmental disabilities,” expressed Lisa.  

Fundraising efforts significantly benefit local communities. As a result, the team will directly benefit from the funds that were raised. “The fundraising dollars from the plunge are so important to our teams,” said Lisa. “We have been purchasing uniforms for our individual clubs, as well as the regular expenses of equipment, venues, and competitions.” The club is even planning for their very first banquet 

With such success in this year’s Polar Plunge, SO Dufferin plans on making an even bigger splash next year! “We are very excited for next year,” said Lisa. “We have plans to get the word out much earlier to create more community awareness for Special Olympics.”