Viterbo Education department plunges with a purpose


Education Club’s 2023 Polar Plunge

Carter Steger, Assistant Editor

On March 4, the Polar Plunge took place at Black River beach. The Viterbo Education club raised $10,050 for the event this year. Many Viterbo students that raised money took the plunge alongside Viterbo faculty like Josh Lichty and Sheldon Lee.  

For Ed Club members and individual fundraisers, advertising for the Polar Plunge is something they look forward to every year. Lichty says, “I went around to different buildings and passed out cards with QR codes, and I used a little bit of peer pressure, which worked well for drawing support once it was time to take the plunge. The Ed club’s team had over thirty plungers made up of current faculty, staff, students and alumni. One current student-teacher, Alex Gluch, brought the Westby Girls Basketball team that he coaches.”  

To assist in fundraising, the Ed club provided incentives to help call attention to the event. “If you raised $50 you got entered into a raffle. The week of the plunge we raffled off Kwik Trip, Target, Olive Garden, and even the Charmant,” Lichty shares. 

Winning prizes is fun and entertaining, but the real reward was seeing the effects of the fundraising firsthand. “The water was cold, but the hearts were warm as Special Olympics athletes from the area pumped up the crowd with their energy and stories. When you see the Special Olympics athletes, and they share how it helped them go to Orlando. Or when they share out how they were able to compete with new uniforms, and the coaches are able to take time and explain how the fundraising supported them, that’s why we do it.”  

Fundraising was not just done by the Viterbo community and Ed Club. Other groups raised money along with individuals from the area, totaling around $80,000. Regarding the fundraising efforts, Lichty says, “With just over a week to go the total was about half the goal. Viterbo and other teams picked up the fundraising and blew past their goal. I think that’s an important thing to share as it speaks about the La Crosse area.” 

The fundraising removes many barriers for the Special Olympic athletes. The money can be used for things like new equipment or things like travel expenses. “There is a lot of good momentum for equity and social justice. This is a way to help improve that in our community. To promote social justice and equity for individuals with disabilities or special needs is ultimately our main goal,” says Lichty.  

Plunging offers a tangible experience for Viterbo members to practice the university’s beliefs. On what it means to be involved, Lichty says, “It reinforces the core value of service.” Not only does the Polar Plunge assist the Special Olympic athletes, but it also gets the Viterbo community involved in the local community.