North Middle school in Great Falls has participated in the Polar Plunge for four years now and is breaking a personal school record.
This year, their team is comprised of 7 students and 7 staff members, which is the largest participation the school has seen in comparison to previous years.
Each student has a goal of raising $50 to donate to the Special Olympics.
So far, the school has raised over $1,000, which is several hundred more than their original goal of $750.
However, for the students participating in the event, this is much more than just an icy swim.
“At home, I have a brother, he’s special needs and so I really have a connection with the special needs community,” says Rory Hibbs, an 8th grader at North Middle.
For those without a personal connection, the simple idea of being a part of something bigger is reason enough.
“It’s just… helping someone feel like they’re part of something,” explained 8th grader Jaden Unterseeter.
“I just want to do something that I’m going to look back on and go, I’ve helped these people,” says Amy Ollivant, an 8th grader at North Middle school.
For students and staff alike, their peers with disabilities are some of the kindest people they’ve ever known.
For some, their experiences with such unique individuals have been nothing short of life changing.
“I think it just opened my heart. My heart grew ten times working with that student and I really didn’t understand my capacity to come to love a student until I worked with a student with special needs; and he brought out the best in me and I hope I brought out the best in him,” explained Clinton Topel, an At Risk program teacher for North Middle school.
The school plans on continuing the annual tradition and that their team continues to grow in years to come.
The Polar Plunge is this Friday at 7 pm in downtown Great Falls off of 4th Street and Central Avenue.
If you’d like to donate to the North Middle school team, give the front office a call at (406)-268-6525.