Niles cops plunge for Special Olympics
Niles Police Division Commander Vince Genualdi (left) Sergeant Ron Brandt, and Patrol Officer Jim Griesenauer jumped in Lake Michigan to benefit Special Olympics. | Michael Jarecki~For Sun-Times Media
More information about Special Olympics Illinois is available at www.soill.org. Plunge information
can be found by visiting www.plungeillinois.com.
Updated: April 29, 2013 2:15AM
EVANSTON — Though the beach on the campus of Northwestern University was covered in a fresh coat of snow and the volleyball nets flapped in the cold Lake Michigan breeze, it was still seen as perfect swimming weather for some.
The staff of the Law Enforcement Torch Run was able to cut through the shoreline ice to create just enough of an opening for dozens of police officers and fellow fundraisers to soak in the experience of the 2013 polar plunge.
Plungers gathered inside heated tents for one last warm-up before waiting in line for their turn to test the 40-degree water. Supporters included representatives from the Niles Police Department and community.
The officers braved the chilly weather and a lengthy wait in line with sand and snow between their toes before hearing their department name called to rush the water.
In total, 166 plungers helped raise $70,184 and the Niles officers were proud to help out.
“As much as we can,” Niles Police Sergeant Ron Brandt said of their fundraising goal. “It was nice. (The water) wasn’t that bad this year.”
Joining Brandt was division commander Vince Genualdi and first time plunger officer Jim Griesenauer. The rookie polar plunger didn’t receive too much advice from his veteran officers, but not much was needed on this day.
“They told me it would be cold,” Griesenauer said. “It was nowhere near as bad as I thought. We were colder waiting in line.”
The officers ran in, soaked in some chilly Lake Michigan water and made a dart to the nearest warming tent for an immediate change of clothes. Overall, the officers were proud to join their peers in raising money for an organization that is dear to most of their hearts.
“I went to my knees, we posed for a picture and then I went down on my belly,” Griesenauer said. “It was great. The donations and organization are really great.”