Jenn Morgan and her 10-year-old daughter Tessa have been inspirational in creating and maintaining an annual tradition in their Ontario community of West Grey County. That tradition is the yearly Polar Plunge in support of Special Olympics Ontario. Jenn and Tessa have been remarkably successful in their fundraising efforts. In the past five years, the mother daughter duo has raised over $5,000 for their community’s Special Olympic athletes.
In Tessa and Jenn’s eyes, participating in the Polar Plunge is much more meaningful than the money that they raise.
“By participating in Polar Plunge, you are helping bring awareness to Special Olympics and by fundraising you are allowing athletes to be the best that they possibly can be” Jenn says. “Raising funds helps them to be able to attend competitions, purchase uniforms or other things they need to compete”.
Tessa’s charitable spirit has made quite the impact to many prominent people in West Grey. These include members of the West Grey Police Services.
“West Grey officers are the best of the best” exclaims Jenn. “Chief Rob Martin is a huge supporter of Tessa and is always behind her cheering her on.” “Many other officers are aware of Tessa's fundraising and are so proud of all she has raised in the last five years”. Jenn also mentions that Constable Mitch Roulston and Auxiliary Sargent Kristina Parsons have also been very supportive of Tessa.
Despite the Polar Plunge having gone virtual this year, Tessa had her best fundraising totals to date. “A lot of folks want to help others and they were so proud of Tessa's fundraising efforts that they wanted to help her reach her goal” Jenn says. “We’ve raised $1,200.00 this year, which smashed her last year’s amount of $1,045.00”.
Tessa and Jenn’s unwavering support for Special Olympics athletes has also paid dividends by the way they have provided an opportunity for their community to come together like never before. The community participates in other activities during the event. “The Polar Plunge brings the community together to support Special Olympics” Jenn says. “Our West Grey officers also take the Plunge and it allows everyone to see a side of the officers they most likely would never see”. “The smiles and cheers of the Special Olympics athletes brings so much joy to Tessa and I”, continues Jenn. “We have a floor hockey and basketball game with students versus Special Olympics athletes and West Grey officers which is always so much fun!”
Although Tessa and Jenn’s involvement with the Polar Plunge has become a yearly staple in West Grey, Jenn acknowledges that this tradition would likely not have been possible without the encouragement of someone who was near and dear to their hearts. “Our friend Constable Cory Trainor got us involved with the Polar Plunge. Through him, we have seen how much the athletes need support to be able to compete to the best of their abilities. They need our support in order to make this happen”. Sadly, Constable Cory Trainor passed away in February of 2020. To honour and remember Constable Trainor, Jenn took her plunge for her friend Cory.
With continued sources of inspiration like that of the late Constable Trainor, Tessa and Jenn have no plans to stop finding ways to support Special Olympics athletes, and are striving to raise the bar for next year’s Polar Plunge. “This (Polar Plunge) is an annual event for us” says Jenn. “Next year's goal will be even bigger hoping we can crush it!
Big splash indeed.