Feb. 13, 2013
MADISON, Wis. -- Not many people would volunteer to spend a Saturday morning jumping into icy water in single-digit Wisconsin weather.
That’s exactly what UW cornerbacks Hugs Etienne, Terrance Floyd, Devin Gaulden, Darius Hillary, Dare Ogunbowale, T.J. Reynard and Sojourn Shelton did when they took off their winter jackets, put on their jerseys and jumped into an ice-cold Lake Monona to benefit Special Olympics Wisconsin on Feb. 8.
The “Polar Plunge” event was held at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison and raised more than $400,000 in support of Special Olympics athletes. Special Olympics Wisconsin’s mission is to provide persons with disabilities year-round sports training and professional support.
Ogunbowale said it was a no brainer to jump into the cold water for such a great cause.
“I volunteered for the Special Olympics all the time in high school,” he said. “The actual jump was a huge shock -- even for a Wisconsin guy -- but it helped doing it with the guys.”
UW assistant coach Ben Strickland and his players joined more than 1,500 people who braved the elements to raise money for the cause.
“We have tremendous young men in our football program,” Strickland said. “The more they get involved in the community, the better it is for the community and for our guys in continuing to grow from young men to men.”
Strickland believes that the student-athletes have earned and been given many great opportunities to be involved with the community.
“They have the platform to positively influence the world,” he said. “The Polar Plunge is a way for our football program to reach out, give back and hopefully make an impact on the lives of others.”
Special Olympics Wisconsin Regional Director of Development Anna Strand said the Badgers’ efforts are appreciated.
“Their bravery, and slight insanity, supports programming for nearly 10,000 Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes across the state of Wisconsin,” Strand said.