On Saturday, February 18, the UW MBA class participated in the Polar Plunge. This is an annual tradition led by the GBA and organized by the Graduate Business Association’s Development Chair. This event was headed by the A.C. Nielsen Center’s very own Jim Rudolph. The goal: commit as many MBA students to jumping into Lake Monona and contributing to the Special Olympics. Given the great participation in years past, Jim had high participation and fund-raising goals to achieve.
Fund-raising activities began as early as December 2011 and included soliciting donations from students, friends, family and local businesses. Jim even organized an evening of discounted drinks (with a $5 donation, of course) at Whiskey Jack’s the weekend before the plunge. Student commitment to “take the plunge” got off to a slow start in late 2011, but picked up significant steam in late January and early February.
The entire fund-raising experience was a wonderful display of camaraderie. The A.C. Nielsen Center was at 50% participation and nearly 100% contribution. Those that didn’t jump helped make sure every A.C. Nielsen Center jumper achieved their fundraising goal. Some non-jumpers even donated to multiple participants. All and all, it was a great team-building experience.
I, of course, can’t take any credit for the success of the event. Rather, the majority of the credit goes to the GBA and to Jim Rudolph, who has included the following brief note for the blog:
“So, I'm almost three days removed from jumping into Lake Monona with 76 of my classmates and friends and I'm happy to report no frostbite, hypothermia or any other ailments at this time (knock on wood). In the process, the University of Wisconsin MBA program raised over $20,000 for Special Olympics. We were blessed with a balmy 35-degree day and no wind to cut through us as we climbed out of the lake. We set a new record for my school, both in terms of participants and contributions, having both the second highest donation level in our region and the second highest number of participants—behind only the largest plunge team in the country. Some of my peers have called it a once-in-a-lifetime experience—however, I’ve promised that I will definitely be jumping again!
I began coordinating the efforts of our team in mid-December trying hard to persuade reluctant classmates to go jump in a frozen lake with me; soliciting local businesses to support our team financially; and asking myself frequently and often well after midnight, ‘How am I going to raise that much money?!’ So, seeing Saturday finally come with so much energy from my classmates down the home stretch and knowing how much of a difference these funds can mean to the operations of Special Olympics, I consider this to be among my proudest moments. “