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Students and teachers ‘plunge’ for Special Olympics

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Senior April Htut loves going to the beach, but she never thought she’d run across snow-covered sand to jump into a freezing cold ocean.

After running into the freezing water, participants in the Polar Bear Plunge scurried back to the sand to get warm again. Photo courtesy April Htut.

Last Friday, Htut joined about twenty students and two teachers from Whitman to participate in the fifteenth annual Polar Bear Plunge at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis. The event helped raise money for the Special Olympics of Maryland. Even though school was closed that day, special education teacher Steve Sutherland convinced administrators to let the students go on their first field trip to the Plunge.

The “Walt Whitman Water Vikings,” a team comprised of the students and teachers who plunged, raised over $4,200. Individual students who raised over $50 were eligible  to plunge and receive a free sweatshirt.

The money raised also supports MCPS corollary sports, teams for students with and without disabilities who don’t want to compete at the junior varsity or varsity levels. Last fall, Whitman offered united track and field and plans to expand to united softball and bocce teams next year.

Junior Beatriz Sevilla asked her relatives and friends to sponsor her plunge and help donate to the Special Olympics. She raised $235 on her own and said she would definitely go back next year despite the freezing temperatures.

“At first, it was fine, but then five seconds in, your body completely stopped, and you were like, ‘This is horrible!” she said. “But it’s totally worth it.”

Although she had second thoughts about plunging, Htut said she enjoyed the event.

“I had to defrost my toes,” she said. “It was definitely a really great experience to have, and its a good story to tell, so I’m glad I went. I was really surprised at how many people showed up to support a great cause.”


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