Plunge for profits

Freedom faculty members participate in Beaver County Polar Plunge


The eight faculty members stood together to take a picture after they took the plunge.

Hallie Spielman, Editorial Editor

The freezing day lacked snow to cover the ground. The chilly weather was caused by the neverending wind. The teams stood waiting for their turns to run into the frigid water. The 2019 Polar Plunge was about to begin.  

The Polar Plunge is an annual event where members of the community wade into the Beaver River in Bridgewater. The event is held to raise money for the Special Olympics.

Last year, the event raised over $100,000 through about 460 participants’ determination to plunge into the water. Freedom and its participants alone raised  $6,860 through the efforts of 13 employees.

This year, Freedom had eight employees participating in the event. The school district raised $4,362 for the cause.

While most of the district’s employees that participated work in the elementary school, the high school has one faculty member who participated: Assistant Principal Steven Mott. The elementary school had the final seven participants.

“Whether plunging or not, our teachers, parents and students have supported this cause tirelessly throughout the first half of the school year.  Mrs. Gena Tokar took the fundraising lead in our building, and her motivation and commitment to plan fun events and get our students involved has made a great impact with educating others on the importance of this cause. The sense of community is one of the most important participation points,” Elementary school Principal Emily Mather said.

For all of the participants, the most important part was the cause.

“The energy and sense of community surrounding the actual plunge event are so inviting.  For me, plunging in freezing water is far from my comfort zone, but when you stand there with your team at the top of the ramp, knowing they have committed time and so much effort to fundraise for this amazing cause, the concept of freezing for a few minutes dissipates. The cause makes it all worth it!”  Mather said.

Tokar was the head of fundraising for the Jan. 12 Polar Plunge.

“I participate to help raise funds so that students are able to participate in Special Olympics. As head of fundraising at the elementary for Special Olympics, we raised $2,700 this year! It is important to me that all students feel included, are supported, and have opportunities,” Tokar said.

Elementary school teacher Karen Suhayda was another faculty member who was involved.

“I participate in the Polar Plunge because I believe in the importance of helping others reach their dreams and aspirations. The Polar Plunge means being brave for a few seconds for the benefit of others who are brave every day of their lives,” Suhayda said.

For Tokar, involving herself in activities that benefit others is common.    

“If people say it’s crazy, I will probably try it.  This is the 6th year for the Beaver County Plunge, and my 6th year participating.  I’ve also participated in basketball against the Steelers, donkey basketball and bubble soccer,” Tokar said.

The event reached its goal of $100,000 and continued to go above. For next year’s plunge, the goal should be to have more participants from Freedom. For anyone interested, students can get involved.  

“If I can jump into freezing water, anyone can! I am sure glad there is coffee waiting for me afterwards!” Suhayda said.

Suhayda encourages more faculty to get involved with next year’s Polar Plunge.