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Special Olympics Oregon Athlete Super Plungers

Mar 14, 2017 • Athlete, Polar Plunge, Super Plunge

Over 3,000 people braved the frigid waters across the state as part of the 2017 Polar Plunge, raising over $500,000 for SOOR participants!

One group, the Super Plungers, took plunging to the extreme and dared to plunge 24 times in 24 hours. Together, these superheros raised $73,496!

For the first time, four Special Olympics Oregon participants joined the Super Plunger legacy, making this year's Super Plunge even more inspiring than ever.

Here is a Q & A with each of our Special Olympics Athlete Super Plungers:

Name: Bjorn King
Age: 25
County:  Washington County
Favorite Sport: Basketball

Q. Why did you decide to participate as a Super Plunger?
A. It sounded fun to me and I was excited to get to know everyone who was there. I was paired up with a police officer named TJ.  He acted as my unified partner for the plunge, so that was a bonus.

Q. Each plunge has a theme. Which plunge was your favorite?
A. There were a lot of themes, but I will have to go with animals because my costume was great. I was a big bear. My name actually means bear in Danish so I connected with the theme. I also chose the 70’s theme because I thought it would be funny.

Q. Do you think the experience has made a positive impact on you?
A. Yes. I made strong relationships with fellow Super Plungers that I hope will always remain.

(Left to Right: Bjorn, Cheyanne, key volunteer Diego, Jenny, and Jonathan.)

Name: Cheyanne West
Age: 22
County: Multnomah County
Favorite Sport: Power Lifting

Q. Can you explain what the Super Plunge is?
A. A Super Plunger is a person who jumps into the Columbia River 24 times in 24 hours, on the hour, to raise money for Special Olympics Oregon athletes, such as myself. This year was the first year that we had unified partners for the plunge. I got paired up with an officer named Andy who works for the Portland Police Bureau. We were unified partners in plunging.

Q. What was your favorite memory of the plunge?
A. My favorite memory was right before our last plunge. I thanked Andy for being my partner and friend.  I have had bad experiences in the past with the police, but he made me realize that they are amazing people who are just doing their very difficult jobs.  The officers then gathered around me and gave me a huge hug. I felt really happy to thank them and to gain new friends!

Q. What is the one thing a Super Plunger cannot live without during the 24 hrs?
A. A big comfy blanket. It gets so cold and the first thing I wanted to do after being in the river was jump into my warm blanket!  I kept it by the heater the whole time so it would be warm.


Name:  Jenny Hill
Age: 30
County:  Marion County
Favorite Sport: Bocce

Q. What was your favorite memory of the plunge?
A. I had a Super Plunge unified partner who was a fireman from Portland. His name was Laurent and he was amazing. He has become a very good friend to me and I hope we stay friends for a really long time.  I used to be scared of fireman, but now he has changed that for me.  Overall, I loved making new friends and hanging out with the staff, athletes and plungers. They are like family to me.  It was all a great memory.

Q. How did you feel once you completed the 24 Plunges in 24 hours?
A. It was truly amazing. I felt inspired and the experience made me feel like I did something right. I felt that God put this in my heart for me to do for other people. Once I completed this, I knew I achieved something big. I don’t usually get opportunities like this, so doing this was a once in a lifetime opportunity I will never forget.

Q. Would you Super Plunge again?
A. Pick me, pick me! I would not turn down that offer, no way! You will see me next year for sure.

Name: Jonathan Shockey
Age: 27
County: Washington County
Favorite Sport: Basketball

Q. How did you feel once you completed the 24 Plunges in 24 hours?
A. It felt so good to finish all the plunges.  I felt very proud of myself and said to myself, “I can’t believe I done it! it made me want to cry with joy.

Q. What was your favorite memory of the plunge?
A. My favorite memory was seeing everyone in their costumes for the 70’s plunge because people looked so silly and funny. It was hilarious. I enjoyed it all because it was the best fun I have had in ages. The whole Super Plunge is one of my favorite memories ever.

Q. Do you think the experience has made a positive impact on you?
A. Yes. I made friends and was around many different people the whole weekend. At first I was shy, but by the end of the plunge I was friends with everyone and knew I would miss them once it was finished.

January Volunteer Spotlight

Jan 11, 2016 • Volunteer, unified sports, Polar Plunge

Mica Annis, Glencoe High School

During the summer leading into her freshman year at Glencoe High School, Mica Annis attended a leadership camp where she learned about the Polar Plunge.  She immediately became interested in getting involved with Special Olympics Oregon and supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities.  Once school started, she hit the ground running with excitement to get her school involved in the Polar Plunge.  Now a senior, Mica has been Glencoe’s Polar Plunge captain for the past 4 years and has expanded her involvement with SOOR and her passion for advocating for individuals with intellectual disabilities. 

As a freshman, Mica coached an elementary Unified basketball team and quickly realized the impact that sport can have for individuals with intellectual disabilities, especially youth.  She specifically worked with two youth basketball players who had low skills and never scored a basket.  At their last game of the season, one of the players was passed the ball and their entire team came together to help her score her first basket.  This experience helped Mica realize the power of sport and the true spirit of Special Olympics. 

“Yes, there is a competitive aspect, but Special Olympics is more about coming together and helping each other succeed.  This is really exciting to be a part of,” says Mica. 

After coaching, Mica played a valuable role in starting a Unified Sports program at Glencoe High School.  She even participated as a Unified Partner on their Unified soccer team one year.   Mica says that Unified Sports has truly helped herself and her peers develop relationships with students with intellectual disabilities.  When asked what has been the most powerful part of her involvement with Unified Sports, Mica said, “Seeing how much Unified Sports and Special Olympics can help people and integrate them into society, develop friendships and build confidence.”

Special Olympics Oregon is not the only thing that Mica is passionate about, her list of involvements is quite outstanding for an 18 year old.  Mica is currently the Student Body President and Key Club President at Glencoe High School.  She is also a member of multiple organizations, including the Hillsboro Youth Advisory Council, Youth Advisory Board for World Affairs Council of Oregon, and an Ambassador to the State Capital for the Oregon Association of Student Councils.  In addition to these roles, Mica has also been a leader for SOOR by facilitating multiple workshops about the Polar Plunge at various leadership conferences and events for youth.  Last summer Mica interned at the SOOR state offices and was a huge help in assisting with projects, events, and presentations.

One of Mica’s favorite experiences throughout her SOOR involvement has been building Glencoe’s participation in the Polar Plunge.  The first year only 5 students joined Glencoe’s team, but last year there were 35 students that took the Plunge with Mica.  “It’s exciting to see how much it has grown and how many people care about the cause and are passionate about it,” says Mica.

After graduation this spring, Mica plans to attend college and pursue a degree in International Studies and minor in Women’s Studies.  She then hopes to acquire a law degree and work on civil and human rights to advocate for equality and basic human needs.

Thank you for being such a dedicated advocate and supporter for Special Olympics Oregon, Mica.  Your passion, leadership, and commitment to promoting inclusion is an inspiration to us all, especially our youth leaders and athletes!

2011 Project UNIFY Oregon Youth Leadership Summit

Oct 27, 2011 • Project UNIFY Oregon, Inspirational videos, R Word, Polar Plunge

BEAVERTON, OR –On a beautiful October day change was in the air both outside and inside the Tiger Woods Center at NIKE World Headquarters. More than 400 high school and middle school students representing 10 Oregon schools gathered for the 2011 Youth Leadership Summit to share ideas and enthusiasm about Project UNIFY Oregon.

Guest speakers, inspirational videos, raffle prizes, and even a text-messaging opportunity to win an I-Pod made it an exciting and inspirational gathering of student leaders.

Rainier senior Angela Posch and junior Shaylyn Kinman, described the Project UNIFY Oregon activities at their school, including a unified P.E. class, an "R Word" assembly held last year, and after-school sports such as bocce ball. Their classmate Stanley Stimson was enjoying the activities: "I’m doing good," he said.

Students and teachers from six schools comprised a school panel that shared their different Project UNIFY Oregon activities, including Forest Grove High School’s Youth Rally, how McMinnville High School raised $1,700 from the play "It’s Our School, Too!" and Sherwood High School’s Breaking Down the Walls campaign and Lunch Bunch, described by one student as "a mix-it-up kind of thing."

"Last year, I participated in Polar Plunge," said a panel member from Stayton High School. "The water was freezing, but I knew that once I stepped into the water I was supporting something that I was passionate about. I have personally witnessed in our school hallways other students stopping from using the R Word."

Chris Crawford, National Sales Director for Team at Nike, shared his insights on working through challenges and how the Nike culture promotes acceptance and inclusion.

Bill and Peggy Self of Portland told of their son Brendon’s athletic achievements through his participation at Grant High School and Special Olympics. Brendon proudly wore his varsity letter jacket from Grant. Brendon, who also is an Eagle Scout, together with his family has raised funds to support a special-needs school in Kenya called the Ndohivyo Project.

Melissa Bowerman, who is the daughter-in-law of Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman, volunteers with her husband, Jon, as the track-and-field coach for the Condon-Wheeler track team. Two years ago, when their son wanted to run track for Condon-Wheeler, the Bowermans discovered that there was no equipment, no uniforms, no transportation…and no track. A Nike connection helped their team get all of the uniforms they needed, and now, "Over half of our students go out for track, and they’re the cool kids."

Melissa shared her own story about achieving national and world-champion archery medals, and how she worked through obstacles to achieve her dream.

"A lot of people go to a lot of trouble to inspire you, but nobody tells you what do next. I’m going to give you the secret formula on how to get what you want." She then encouraged the students to write down their plans: "It’s a contract with yourself, and it’s real important."

Emely Garcia and Bianca Maldonado of Southridge High School were attending the conference for the first year. They were part of a group of 25 students seeking ideas to start Project UNIFY Oregon activities. "At our school people are stuck into dances, and we want to do something better," said Emely, explaining that special-needs students are not included in activities or lunchtime groups at Southridge. The girls plan to take ideas from the conference, especially Polar Plunge, to their leadership class.

"It was fantastic," said Matt Parish, special education teacher from Sutherlin High School, who was part of a group of 24 students and teachers. "We have a lot of new students in our Partners Club, and this was a very well-organized day."

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