Plunging From A Father’s Perspective

My son Jay and I will be Plunging again (Jay’s 10th time, my 9th) on Saturday March 6th for Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA).  Last year, we were among over 940 plungers who raised $400,000 for SOMA (10% of our annual budget).  As we don’t charge our athletes to participate, these funds are important in providing 130 competitions in our 27 different sports!  Jay has won Gold in 12 of those sports, ranging from track & field, to power-lifting, equestrian, golf, downhill & slalom skiing, and sailing.

The real reason for my “March Madness” is because in the 28 years Jay’s been involved in Special Olympics, I’ve seen (as a father, ski & sailing coach, unified partner in sailing, and now State Board Chair) the wonderful impact Special Olympics has had on him and so many others of our 11,639 athletes with intellectual disabilities.  Certainly, their improved physical fitness is impressive, but far more importantly, I’ve had the pleasure of watching them grow socially, gain self-confidence, self-esteem, and independence through their participation in Special Olympics. 

In addition, SOMA pioneered Special Olympics’ “Healthy Athletes” program in 1994, now worldwide, to provide free dental and medical screening for our athletes, uncovering problems with vision, hearing, spines, feet, and physical therapy.   In 2008, we formed a joint venture with UMass Medical School.  By training med students, residents & doctors in dealing with people with Intellectual Disabilities, we will be making quality healthcare available to a host of others with ID in the future. 

Your support will help us meet the financial challenge of this economy (as well as the challenge of the cold Atlantic!).  Last year the water was (relatively!) warm at 37 degrees, up from 28-30 degrees in prior years (but the wind-chill made it one of the coldest yet!).  

Thank you in advance for your support, and a sincere “Thank You!” to those who have already pledged on-line, or donated to us by check!  You can go on-line to and click on make a donation to any one of our many Plungers!

Jeff Nothnagle


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