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DeSales Shows Support for Special Olympics with Polar Pop Challenge

by Janelle Hill Mar 2, 2021

Dozens of students braved chilly temperatures and freezing water to show their support for Special Olympics Pennsylvania. 

The DeSales Special Olympics Committee hosted a Polar Pop Challenge in the parking lot of the Dorothy Day Student Union. Students and staff—including Father James Greenfield, OSFS ’84, University president—popped water balloons filled with freezing water over their heads to support Special Olympics. 

“When we think about all the things we do here at the University, Special Olympics has to be one of the finest things that we do because it seems to me that we get so many students that are working so hard for such a great cause,” Fr. Greenfield told students before popping the first balloon over his head. 

Some students dressed in sweatshirts while others opted for swimwear. Elizabeth Leibenguth ’22, a criminal justice major (shown below), took a more creative approach—wearing a bathing suit along with scuba goggles, flippers, and even an inner tube. 

Elizabeth Leibenguth during the 2021 Polar Pop Challenge

“A long time ago, my sister did the Polar Plunge Challenge where she dove into a lake in mid-January. I always wanted to do it, but I wasn’t old enough at the time. This one guy was all decked out in scuba gear. I aspired to be like that guy; so here I am.” 

 Elizabeth Leibenguth ’22, criminal justice major

“It was fun. A bit chilly but worth it,” added Sean Murray ’21, a finance major, who came with several of his teammates from the men’s soccer team. 

The University wasn’t able to host the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Eastern Fall Sectional last year due to COVID-19 restrictions. But the DeSales committee still wanted to give students the Special Olympics experience. 

“This is a way to have a smaller event to spread that message of inclusion, bring some awareness to Special Olympics Pennsylvania, and just have some fun,” said Olivia Craig ’21, a management team advisor to the committee and last year’s event director.

Shown in the main photo of this article are students Justin Poccia '23 and Kathleen Maloney '23.