BNSF Twin Cities Division employees in Northtown, Minn., braved freezing temperatures, wind and snow flurries to participate in the Polar Bear Plunge for the second consecutive year, so far raising more than $27,200 for Special Olympics of Minnesota.
Employees participated for the first time last year, with 17 employees raising $13,000 for Special Olympics of Minnesota. This year’s event brought in even more BNSF participants, 53 employees and family members. The team expects to raise about $29,000 once all the dollars are in, much more than the $20,000 goal! This also includes a donation from the BNSF Railway Foundation as well as Matching Gift donations.
“We said last year that we wanted to do this again in 2012,” said Terminal Superintendent Phillip Mullen. “Special Olympics of Minnesota approached us and asked us to be a sponsor, which we did at the bronze level.”
The idea for the team began in 2011 with Mullen, when he heard a spot for the plunge on local radio station during his daily commute. “The announcer was talking about how, although the jump might be painful, it was nothing compared to the challenges that the kids and folks who participate in Special Olympics may face every day,” Mullen said.
Terminal Manager Rob Skuza again led the effort, starting last fall, to recruit participants and begin gathering pledge commitments. Many salaried and scheduled employees participated, including Tom Albanese, division general manager and Tom Packer, assistant vice president, finance.
This year, the plunge was colder because the lake levels were deeper. “If you jumped in, you went under,” Mullen explained. “Last year, you might not get completely soaked, but this year, you didn’t have a choice.”
Mullen said the team plans to make participation an annual event.