Riverside teachers and student join in the Polar Plunge

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What started as an idea, grew into a Riverside Student Council project, and finished with one senior, the high school principal and two high school teachers taking the 2009 Polar Plunge to benefit the Special Olympics.

Riverside won first place in costume for their Cannonball Express theme at the 2009 Polar Plunge raising money for the Special Olympics. The group took the plunge in honor of their own Special Olympic star Cannon Ellis. Pictured are, from left: Matt Ziegler, student council sponsor; Cam Casey, Riverside senior; Cannon Ellis; Lori Butler, English teacher; and high school principal Chad Jordan. Back -- Dana Grimes and Lynn Ellis created the Cannonball Express and cheered on the participants for the event. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Principal Chad Jordan; English teacher Lori Butler; world history teacher Matt Ziegler; and senior Cam Casey braved the snow and 30 degree water as they joined 80 other participants in the Polar Plunge held at Craighead County Forest Lake on Saturday, Feb. 28.

Ironically, the original date, Jan. 31, was postponed due to the ice storm and the annual event was rescheduled for Feb. 28. The Riverside crew didn't expect the snow but it did not change their plans and only added to the Polar Plunge adventure.

In addition to teaching history, Mr. Ziegler is the Riverside High School Student Council sponsor. The fundraiser started with the Student Council deciding to raise funds for the Special Olympics in honor of one of their own high school students, Cannon Ellis. Cannon is a longtime Special Olympic participant who has competed in the swimming events at the state games.

Ziegler and Jordan agreed to take the Polar Plunge if the students raised the money with others deciding to join them.

"We wanted to do this for Cannon," Cam Casey said. "A goal was set at $500 and we reached it."

Most of the money was raised by the Riverside Rebel basketball fans during the ballgames.

"This is our first time to participate but we hope to make it an annual event," Principal Jordan said. "We already have plans to start early next year with different projects to raise funds. We have increased our goal for next year to $750."

The Riverside crew received the first place trophy for Best Costume.

The "polar plungers" gave credit for the costume award to Dana Grimes and Lynn Ellis who came up with the idea and created the costume, the "Cannonball Express." Keeping with the theme of the costume, Mr. Ziegler did a "Cannonball dive" into the water.

Cam and Mr. Jordan managed to dive in head first, and Ms. Butler waded in, but all managed to take the Polar Plunge for Cannon and the Special Olympics.

"We already have more volunteers committed to join us next year," Jordan said. "It was cold, but it was worth it."

Cannon, along with several other teachers and students, were on hand at Craighead Forest Park to cheer the group on.

Mrs. Ellis said Cannon may try his skills at running events this year to add to his swimming competition.

Cannon expressed his appreciation to his friends and teachers for their support in raising funds for the Special Olympics.

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