She's a teacher, she's an organizer and fundraiser, she's a smiler! She's very involved with people with disabilities and has been since she participated in the best-buddy program during her high school years. She's outgoing, charming and full of life! But most of all she's an amazing Super Plunger!
This weekend the Special Olympics Maryland Polar Bear Plunges took place at Sandy Point State Park , Md. The events kicked off with a Cool School Plunge on Thursday, followed by a Police, Firefighter/EMS and Military Plunge and a Corporate Plunge on Friday and culminating in three gigantic Polar Bear Plunges for everybody else on Saturday.
Mary didn't just do one of these plunges. Not even two or three. She probably plunged more than 25 times this year (but I actually have to ask her because I think it's even more than that). And she hasn't done that just this year but she's been at it for 8 years!
On Thursday, Mary plunged with 270 students and 12 teachers (that's 7 school buses full) of South River High. She got them there, she inspired and recruited the kids, she organized many fundraisers, she took care of the required forms and waivers and she collected the money. This year the school raised $ 34,000 and were the #1 team (again). In total the school, over a 7 year period, has raised about $ 250,000. And then after the Cool School Plunge, she came back on Friday to start super plunging: a plunge every hour during a period of 24 hours.
I met Mary during the Super Plunge in 2014; the coldest plunge EVER, when the waves in the Chesapeake Bay kept bringing in ice through which the plungers had to find their way! (For those interested, here are some photos: http://marleenvandenneste.smugmug.com/SpecialOlympics/Polar-Bear-Plunge-12514.) It didn't discourage her though. This year was her 5th time as a super plunger (7th time overall, including the cool school plunge). She teamed-up with South River High student and student liaison Caroline Boyd whose father, Don Boyd, is the captain of the Super Plunge Team.
This Saturday Mary and I sat down for a few moments to talk. This was after plunge # 23 at around 8:15 AM and she was tired! Very tired. The "dark side of the moon" plunges (between 1 and 5AM) had been hard. When I asked her if she was planning to continue being a super plunger in the next few years she was a little hesitant. "As long as her body would let her", she said! "It takes more and more time recovering..."
Mary, the following photos are worth a thousand words, all illustrating what an amazing, inspiring, funny and kind plunger you are! Thank you for all that you do! I have a feeling you'll continue doing this for a few more years!
And to all super plungers: you all deserve to be the subject of a blog. You are all so, so special. Thank you for showing me the way! Your photos are here: http://marleenvandenneste.smugmug.com/SpecialOlympics/Super-Plunge-27-2817.