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Staff pays to ‘toss the boss’ in Special Olympics’ annual Polar Plunge

It was a frosty Saturday morning earlier this month when five PDS staff members showed up to participate in the annual Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Polar Bear Plunge challenge. One of them, PDS’ executive director Dennis Gordon, FAICP, had never considered doing such a “crazy thing” but joined the group willingly. The goal was to raise money for the Special Olympics and they succeeded.

When approached initially with the idea of participating in the Polar Bear Plunge, Gordon was standing before the staff during an agency-wide staff meeting. As comments grew encouraging him to agree to being tossed, Gordon took the challenge if the staff could raise $1,000 to support Special Olympics. The staff responded affirmatively and the deal was struck. Staff set out immediately to raise the funds.

“When staff first challenged me to join in, I was somewhat hesitant,” said Gordon. “Jumping into frigid water on a winter day had never come close to being included on my bucket list. But then I considered the reason for the challenge—Special Olympics—and decided it was worth whatever discomfort I’d have to endure.”

Donations for the “PDS Plungers” came from all sources, as many were excited to see the boss get tossed! Not only did those who were spearheading the effort contribute, but also staff members and other local officials. By jump day, the team not only met its goal, but exceeded it by raising over $1,300.

Team members besides Gordon were: Gary Forsyth, Associate Building Official; Robyn Woodley, Principal Permit Clerk; Ryan Hermann, Associate GIS Specialist; and, Alex Koppelman, Associate Planner.

The cold winter’s morning finally came and the “PDS Plungers” met at the jump site, Joe’s Crab Shack in Bellevue. Each member represented PDS by sporting their “PDS Plungers” shirt, with the recognizable logo. The temperature was in the upper 30s but the sun shone brightly. Huddled around a small heater, the team laughed and talked about how cold the water must be.

When the time finally came for them to take the plunge, the “PDS Plungers” wished each other well while representatives from Fox 19 News and Cincinnati’s Q102 gave the countdown. “Three… Two… One… JUMP!” SPLASH!

The “PDS Plungers” jumped together and exited the pool in near record time; the water was a skin- and bone- numbing 46 degrees.

When asked about the experience the following Monday morning, Gordon responded. “I still can’t believe how cold that water was… but I’m glad we could raise money for an extremely worthy cause.”

Special Olympics’ mission is to provide year-round sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

This is not the last time you will see the “PDS Plungers,” as the team’s next goal is to double its members and funds raised for the 2016 Cincinnati Walk Now for Autism Speaks. If you are interested, save the date: May 14th at Coney Island.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller