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  • Writer's picturelondonmiddlebury

Penguin Plunge Raises Over $614,000 for Special Olympics Vermont

Updated: Aug 2, 2021

The 25th Annual Burlington & Cool Schools Penguin Plunge was held on Saturday, February 1st at the Burlington Waterfront. Over 1,200 people braved the elements and plunged into the frigid waters of Lake Champlain to show their support for the Special Olympics athletes in Vermont. The Penguin Plunge is the largest fundraising event for Special Olympics Vermont, and this year, over $614,000 was raised to support sports training and competition opportunities across local and school programs, health screenings, and leadership opportunities for children and adults with intellectual disabilities in Vermont.

“This year’s Burlington & Cool Schools Penguin Plunge was a huge success,” said Special Olympics Vermont President & CEO, Missy Siner Shea. “We are so grateful for the support of our community, it’s leaders and businesses, all of whom, through their involvement, make a statement that they believe in the impactful work of Special Olympics and are committed to building a more inclusive future for us all.”

The Cool Schools Plunge took place at 11am, with the team from Champlain Valley Union High School leading the way as the top fundraising team. The 155-member team raised almost $35,000. The Burlington Plunge started at noon, and the Union Mutual Popsicles were the top fundraising team for the second year in a row. Union Mutual blew last year’s record out of the water. Thanks to their 64-member team, led by President & CEO Michael Nobles, they raised $133,350 – nearly tripling the $44,000 they raised in 2019.

All funds raised through the Penguin Plunge go towards Special Olympics Vermont’s local and school-based programs that exist to foster awareness and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities by using the power of sport to showcase their gifts and abilities. As athlete, William Perrotte says, “At first, I was nervous to meet everyone, but participating (in Special Olympics Vermont) helped to build understanding and I became friends with people I never thought I would before. Everyone gets treated the same and no one is left out.”

This year, the Penguin Plunge enjoyed strong support from several B-Corporations from across Vermont. Certified B-Corporations are required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. Together, B-Corps raised almost $24,000, by teams from Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Rhino Foods, Lake Champlain Chocolates, Burton, Mascoma Bank and Suncommon. In addition to fundraising, many of the corporations above, along with Ben & Jerry’s, Vermont Creamery, Stonyfield Organic, The Alchemist, Bee’s Wrap and Gardener’s Supply provided significant donations of food and items to use as fundraising incentives.

The Penguin Plunge would not have been possible without the support of our many sponsors and partners, presenting sponsor Xfinity, Community Bank N.A., Northfield Savings Bank, Darn Tough, NBT Bank, Bluebird Barbecue, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, NorthCountry Federal Credit Union, Skida Headwear & Accessories, The Vermont Flannel Company, Select Design, 95 Triple X, WVMT and WCAX. Special Olympics Vermont is also grateful for the support of Vermont Tent Company, Bourne’s Energy, the Burlington Parks & Recreation Department, the Burlington Fire Department and the Norwich Cadets who make this event possible every year through providing time, energy, in-kind donations, and more.

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