Buffalo, NY – The D'Youville Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) continued their tradition of participating in the annual Polar Plunge, held a Woodlawn Beach State Park.
Six student-athletes representing four different teams participated in the event on Saturday, December 7. Cassie Brooks, Laurie Poeller, Marina Campbell, and Anna Hayes represented the women's soccer team with the latter two representing the women's lacrosse team as well. Both Ashley Carney and Mikaela Milleville represented the softball team with Milleville also represented the women's volleyball program. Assistant Director of Athletics/Sports Information Director Stephen McCarthy was there on behalf of the administration.
"This event has become somewhat of a tradition for our department," said Carney, who is also SAAC President in addition to an all-conference outfielder for the softball team.
"Dozens of different student-athletes have participated in the Polar Plunge over the past several years, dedicating their time for the Special Olympics. I cannot thank them enough as well as the people who have generously donated money and the support for all parties involved."
The D'Youville Athletics Team raised $400 this year for the Special Olympics of Western New York. As of December 26, $202,644 has been raised.
Participating in his first Polar Plunge, McCarthy was in awe of the dedication and numbers in attendance at the event.
"It was unbelievable the number of people who attended and did it with passion and a smile on their face," recalled McCarthy. "Our incredible student-athletes continue to blow me away with their selflessness and commitment to making the world a better place. Their incredible dedication and abilities to balance so many responsibilities make them truly special people."
The connection between the Special Olympics and the department's Sports Information Director have been present for years. While earning his undergraduate degree at Niagara University, McCarthy took a class in which the sole purpose was to teach Special Olympic athletes how to play basketball.
"That class changed the way I viewed many things in the world," said McCarthy. "The pure joy and excitement those athletes got every week in just playing basketball was nothing short of incredible. The Special Olympics has held a special place in my heart since that experience and I am truly fortunate to be a small part of an amazing cause."
There are nearly 5 million Special Olympics athletes throughout the world, including athletes from ages 8 and up from 172 countries. The Special Olympics were founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver as she worked in research of intellectual disabilities in the late 1940s to opening a summer camp for young individuals with intellectual disabilities in the early 1960s. From there, Shriver continues to run her camp in conjunction with the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation and form the Special Olympics.
You can find more information on this year's Polar Plunge at their website.