Todd Sheely, Director of Indiana Olympic Development and Indiana Development Programs didn’t spend his Sunday on a soccer field like some may suspect. Instead, Sheely found himself jumping into a pool of freezing cold water as he took part in the 2021 Polar Plunge in South Bend.
The Polar Plunge serves as Special Olympics Indiana’s signature fundraiser. With varying plunges taking place around the state, each with their own unique twist, the one central focus of each is simply to be “Freezin’ for a Reason.” All of the funds raised by the events directly benefit more than 18,000 Special Olympics athletes throughout the Hoosier state.
2021 marks the fourth time Sheely has taken the leap into the cold waters. He states that his involvement in the plunge stems from also serving as the Unified Track Coach for Elkhart High School.
"I do this plunge ‘with’ others and not for them. In addition, I challenge others to choose empathy over sympathy,” said Sheely.
Sheely has served as the Head Coach of Elkhart’s Unified Track Program for four years. The Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA), in partnership with Special Olympics Indiana, strives to enrich and enhance the Unified Sports experience of Hoosiers through various programming.
As a “Champion School,” Sheely and Elkhart HS seek to meet four pillars of the Unified Champion Schools program each year. The pillars include using student leadership for sponsored activities, designing whole school programming to promote awareness and respect of persons with intellectual disabilities, participating in a unified sport such as track and field or flag football, and fundraising.
In support of the fourth pillar, Sheely and Elkhart HS sought to raise $1,500 as part of the Champions Together project. They were able to surpass that goal and bring in $1,825 for Special Olympics Indiana.
“It is always rewarding to see staff members of Indiana Soccer demonstrate their compassion for others and their willingness to invest their time, talent and treasure to support their local community. It is especially heartwarming to see Todd continue his sacrificial investment in the special needs community. Indiana Soccer is proud that their Director of ODP continues to make a difference,” stated Dave Guthrie, Executive Director of Indiana Soccer.
To find out more about Polar Plunges near you, the Champions Together program in conjunction with the IHSAA, or Special Olympics Indiana in general, visit soindiana.org.