What started as a small group of about 15 employees and family members in support of a colleague in 2000 has grown into a large group of Plungers, volunteers, fundraisers and recruiters for Special Olympics Virginia’s largest annual fundraiser, the Polar Plunge in Virginia Beach, set for Saturday, Feb. 5 this year.
The secret “hot” sauce to their success?
“Once you get someone to the event, they’re hooked,” said Tammy Kennedy, who has been a part of the VNG Plunge team since its early days. “In minutes, they are excited by the energy, the Special Olympics athletes and families, and all that’s happening down on the oceanfront. Even if they are just coming to watch, next year they’ll be back for their own icy dip.”
Plunging for the first time this year are VNG employees Vernon Tillage and Teisha Wallace, who both agreed they were hoping for an unseasonably warm February day, but are ready to “go all in” either way.
“I’m not only doing this in support of Virginia Natural Gas and Special Olympics Virginia,” Teisha said, but also in honor of my Dad, who was a special education coordinator when I was growing up. I may be wearing a wetsuit, but I’m ready to go all in!”
Wetsuit or bathing suit, we’re certain once Teisha and Vernon make a splash this year, they’ll keep coming back, like so many VNG Plungers do – Plungers like Nancy Smith, who retired from VNG in 2015, but continues to participate and bring her family each February.
Team VNG also can be credited for keeping things “toasty” at the event. From sunup to sundown the week of Polar Plunge, dozens of employees including team lead Chris Hall, also a member of Special Olympics Virginia’s Board of Directors, spend hours setting up on the sand – an incredible 236 hours in 2020 alone, in fact.
All that to say, when you pop into the big, heated tent for a warm up next month, be on the lookout for a Team VNG member – they always have awesome matching hoodies (more on that soon!) – and thank them for “Turning Up the Heat” in so many COOL ways for Special Olympics Virginia.