Feb. 11, 2013
|Football players David Gilbert and Terrance Floyd and rower Josiah Kaiser pose with the Polar Plunge team of Mary Ording and Meghan Herman at Special Olympics Wisconsin's Polar Plunge.
MADISON, Wis. -- Florida natives David Gilbert and Terrance Floyd are not big fans of Wisconsin’s blistering cold.
On Feb. 9, however, the UW football players braved the elements to volunteer at Special Olympics Wisconsin’s Polar Plunge event along with UW crew members Brianna Dahm and Josiah Kaiser and UW track and cross country athlete Dana Steffen.
The event, held at Willow Island at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, raised more than $500,000 in support of Special Olympics Wisconsin’s mission --providing persons with intellectual disabilities year-round sports training and competition.
More than 1,800 people jumped in the freezing water to raise money for the cause, including several UW students and a few UW student-athletes. Football team members Sherard Cadogan and Michael Trotter, volleyball player Mary Ording and women’s soccer player Meghan Herman were among the student-athletes who “took the plunge.”
“It was inspiring to see so many people facing the freezing temperatures to raise money for such a great cause,” Gilbert said. “I was freezing just watching!”
Special Olympics Wisconsin staffers appreciated that the UW student-athletes endured the cold in support of their event. Their presence has an effect on the plunge participants, they said.
"The student-athletes did an excellent job encouraging all participants, helping jumpers warm up in the hot tub area after plunging, giving high-fives, and even going as far as to wear mascot heads,” said Kevin Vollmer, a UW student and Polar Plunge committee member. “It was great to see UW student-athletes volunteering at the Polar Plunge, as it helps build a connection between Badger athletes and Special Olympians across Wisconsin."
Gilbert and his fellow Badgers may have warmed up on the way home from the event, but the effect their volunteerism had on them will be long lasting.
“You know someone is passionate about something when they will brave freezing cold water to support it,” Gilbert said. “I have a lot of respect for passion like that.”