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In a remarkable show of support and dedication for the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois, the O’Fallon Police Department shattered the statewide team fundraising record when they plunged and raised more than $67,000 for Special

A main contributing factor to their fundraising success has been understanding the

 Olympics Illinois athletes at the Carlyle Lake Polar Plunge in Region J. If you guessed the O’Fallon Police Department was the previous Polar Plunge fundraising title holder, you would be right. During the 2022 season their team raised more than $31,000.

“Records are always meant to be broken,” says O’Fallon Police Department Sergeant Brian Gimpel. This impressive achievement more than doubles their previous highest contribution and sets a Polar Plunge fundraising record. “Our goal is to raise as much as we can for the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois,” he affirms. “By raising money, we can allow doors and opportunities for them that may not have been there before.”

Since 1995, the O’Fallon Police Department has actively fundraised for Special Olympics Illinois. The initiative, once started by Chief Don Slazinik, has raised an estimated $600,000 for the mission. Most recently, Sergeant Gimpel and Sergent Nicholas Schmidt have led the O’Fallon Police Department’s fundraising efforts. Since their involvement, the department’s fundraising numbers have drastically grown.

A main contributing factor to their fundraising success has been understanding the importance of community engagement and promoting social inclusion. “A few years back we figured out we could raise more money and raise more awareness by including the community in our plunge, so that is what we did,” explains Gimpel. “Until I got to know some athletes, I didn’t understand the challenges they face and how they’re able to overcome them,” shares Schmidt.

A critical step to building a more inclusive world can be found through one simple principle: engaging individuals with and without intellectual disabilities in both work and play. “I’ve learned so much from so many athletes over the past few years. It’s important to share their stories with the rest of the community. The more people interact with individuals with intellectual disabilities, the more they’ll choose to include,” Sergent Schmidt continues. This year’s O’Fallon Police Department Polar Plunge fundraising contribution will greatly impact the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois by providing them continued chances to say, “SO I DID.” “We are so grateful to the O’Fallon Police Department for everything they do for our athletes and families,” exclaimed Katy Gruen, Plunge Director and Assistant Director, Special Olympics Illinois Region J. “Every year they amaze us through their service and dedication to our mission.”

a group of people posing for a photo

However impressive as this accomplishment is, it underscores their continual support for Special Olympics Illinois and their overall commitment to the community in which they serve. “We can’t thank them enough for their involvement and the awareness of inclusion they bring to our community,” Gruen added.

Take inspiration from the O’Fallon Police Department and find ways to participate in Polar Plunge. Visit for ways to support.