Thursday February 15, 2018
Saturday, February 3 marked the twenty-third-time people from all across Vermont came together and took a chilly dip in Lake Champlain to benefit Special Olympics Vermont. South Burlington High School (SBHS) junior Brendan Precourt led a high school team of “plungers” for the popular Penguin Plunge fund raising event. He recruited students, advertised, promoted and raised money; this year the team raised $6,185 with only 10 people jumping into the lake with Precourt.
Precourt started organizing the high school team during his freshman year. He first became a “plunger” a few years earlier when he joined a middle school team led by Gary Russell. “I joined in sixth grade because the cause intrigued me and this kind of activity is what I like to do,” Precourt says. He decided to form a team and even though it is still relatively new, more money is being raised each year.
Two-thirds of the money raised goes to Special Olympics Vermont, an organization that helps people with intellectual disabilities participate in thirteen sports and nine statewide competitions each year. The group aides in the process of helping people with disabilities find new skills and strengths through the art of sports. The organization offers sports training and competition, health screenings, and leadership opportunities for Vermonters of all ages. Special Olympics helps 1,310 athletes with intellectual disabilities, with support from 400 people who train with these special athletes.
Precourt was inspired. “I had so much fun with it and being an athlete, I feel strongly about the cause… I feel the responsibility to give other people the opportunity to play,” he said. As an active participant himself in many sports, including soccer, basketball, baseball, and skiing, Precourt has learned to be resilient and sees the importance of working together as a team. These lessons will stick with him for the rest of his life and he recognizes the benefits that participation in sport can bring to others.
While on paper, the event might seem very cold and unpleasant, Precourt insists that in reality it is just the opposite. “I actually enjoy the event and the rush. … It’s fun to represent your school in a good way,” he said. He hopes to improve each year by raising more money and having more people participate. His final message is a reminder to the community of South Burlington to mark their calendars for the 2019 Penguin Plunge, Saturday, February 2, 2019. Precourt invites others to join him by participating in this special event and helping Special Olympic athletes gain confidence and joy in their life.
SOURCE: Megan Harton, SBHS CDC Correspondent