Hometown friends raise close to $10,000 for Special Olympics

Since 2012, a group of friends from Lackawanna have taken part in the WNY Polar Plunge. The “Chilly Willies” are just a few of the 1000+ people who rush in to the 45-degree temperatures of Lake Erie at Woodlawn Beach to raise money for the Special Olympics of New York athletes. Thus far, the team has raised just under $10,000 for the cause.

“I’m honored to be a part of this cause and a part of this team,” said Michelle DePasquale, Chilly Willies Team Member. “We are able to make give back to a group of well-deserving individuals and we have fun doing it. It puts a smile on our faces by seeing the athletes get to compete.”

Started by Danielle Kozub, the team members include Jason Anderson, Michelle DePasquale, Ryan Galley, Jonathan Lake, Kathryn Miller, Samantha Pixley, Tara Rivas, Samantha Tedesco, Chelsey Waz, Tracy Wojcieszak, and Nick Zmuda. In addition to the Polar Plunge, the team has raised additional funds through selling candy bars, hosting two beer blasts, a chicken barbeque, and a meat raffle. Each year they’ve been able to collectively raise more money and set higher team goals, which they surpass.

“Two plunges ago we came in 6th place overall, last year in 5th,’ DePasquale added. “To currently be sitting on 2nd place overall makes me so proud of us! We have a small team of 13 people, with no corporate sponsors. We worked to raise every dollar. A special thank you to everyone who has supported our efforts time and time again! We appreciate you all!”

If you would like to make a donation to Special Olympics via Chilly Willies, you can do so at http://events.nyso.org/site/TR/Plunge/POLARPLUNGE?team_id=4751&pg=team&fr_id=1316

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