Landmark Education Graduate Jennifer Kramer Raises Money for Special Olympics Each Year By Taking an Icy Plunge

Really big chill: Polar Plunge’s top fund-raiser has warm heart

From: the Chicago Sun-Times
by Rummana Hussain

On Sunday morning, Jennifer Kramer will throw on a Dopey costume and run into the frigid waters of Lake Michigan.

Some of her girlfriends, dressed as the remaining Seven Dwarfs, will follow close behind.

“We tried to recruit a male Snow White but that didn’t work out,” joked Kramer, who’s on target to be the biggest individual fund- raiser in the annual Chicago Polar Plunge, benefitting Special Olympics Chicago, for a second straight year.

As of Thursday, Kramer had collected $4,700 — a record amount any single participant has raised in the Polar Plunge’s seven-year history.

Kramer also set a record last year, bringing in $4,474.

“It’s so not about winning,” Kramer, 36, said of raising the most cash. “But then again, how great is it to instill the competitiveness for the Special Olympics?”

Kramer, a native of Wauconda, grew up in a family that stressed charity and often delivers clothing, toys, books, and school supplies to a Mexican orphanage.

She first became interested in the Polar Plunge five years ago when she met Maureen Dillon, a former Special Olympics swimmer and basketball player with Down syndrome.

“I’ve always been profoundly interested in helping the less fortunate, especially children with special needs. [Meeting Dillon] cemented what I had felt all along,” said Kramer, a sports development director with the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, one of the many Polar Plunge partners.

Kramer, of Old Town, wore street clothes at her first Polar Plunge. But each year since, she, like hundreds of others gathered at the North Avenue Beach festivities, changes into a costume before dipping into the bone-chilling waves that feel “like millions of needles piercing your skin.”

She’s donned snow fairy and gladiator outfits in the past.

Kramer’s contributions alone, officials said, are enough to cover costs of smaller Special Olympics competitions.

“She’s very spirited and very generous,” said Susan Nicholl, Dillon’s sister and executive director of Special Children’s Charities, the fund-raising organization for Special Olympics Chicago. “We’re so lucky to have her.”

From the Again this year, Jennifer Kramer was our top fundraiser collecting a very impressive $7886.47! Jennifer (on the left) and her friends dressed as the 7 Dwarves and added great energy to the day’s festivities!

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