Bethel Park will participate in its first-ever Cool Schools Polar Plunge at Acrisure Stadium on the North Shore on Feb. 24, aiming to raise approximately $2,500 for Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA).
The school was invited to participate in the frozen fundraiser in part because its newest athletic program, Unified Indoor Bocce, a sport that features students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, together with students without disabilities on Interscholastic Unified Sports teams. The members proudly represent their school like any other PIAA sports team, practicing and competing as equal peers.
Unified Champion Schools (UCS), part of SOPA, oversees the program and helps fund it by paying for team uniforms, court equipment, and all training for coaches and sponsors.
Special Education teacher Julie
Hernandez is Bethel Park’s Unified Indoor Bocce team liaison. She helped to organize the school’s participation in the Polar Plunge event.
“Special Olympics PA is always looking to grow its unified sports offerings, and events like this are a big help,” she said. “We are honored to support their mission of helping to create an inclusive and welcoming world for all.”
According to SOPA officials, the various Polar Plunge events held throughout the commonwealth each winter benefit its more than 13,000 student-athletes. SOPA holds more than 250 competition and training events per year, with the proceeds raised funding nearly all of them.