Even though the weather has been rather warm for this time of year, you wouldn’t really call it “beach weather”. However, the College of Staten Island Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and 650 others thought it was. On December 4th, a handful of SAAC members and Assistant Athletics Director, Katie Arcuri, bundled in their CSI gear to help raise money for the Special Olympics by taking part in the Polar Bear Plunge.

The 12th annual Polar Bear Plunge, that takes place all over the United States, was held at South Beach in Staten Island. The plunge raises money for the Special Olympics while participants show their support by diving into the cold water of the ocean. The day’s event helped raise $95,000, the biggest turn out ever for a New York City region event. The 600 plus plungers included 59 teams including other colleges and high schools.

The idea to participate in the event was brought up in September when Katie Jo Righi brought along Special Olympian Doug Patterson to one of CSI’s monthly SAAC meetings. Being a multi-sport Olympian, which included aquatics, track and field and basketball, Patterson found a common ground with all of CSI’s athletes. The committee was inspired and fell in love with the idea of raising money for athletes like Doug while trying the daring cold plunge.

The athletes arrived at the beach at 10 am with the sun shining as they registered and prepared themselves for the chilling ocean. A countdown began for the plunge and a group of Special Olympians led the crowd of 600 down the sand and into the water.

CSI  SAAC President Jordan Young was amongst the athletes taking part in the cause. “Everything about the event was exciting,” said the CSI basketball star, “When we saw Doug plunge into the water it really came together that we were helping others who shared a passion for sports the way we do.” After him and other athletes dunked themselves full bodied under the chilling ocean, he added “Despite the freezing water, it was completely worth it.”

Young and the CSI committee helped raise $500 for the cause. The CSI SAAC and the Special Olympics will get together in the spring for another fundraising and athletic event.