With air temperatures hovering around the 10-degree mark, 319 Delta employees from 5 continents and 16 states jumped into the frigid waters of Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis to raise funds for Special Olympics MN. Since 2009, Delta employees have been proud supporters of the Polar Plunge, and this year contributed more than $149,000 to support this important cause.
For the first time, Delta employees welcomed Air France to jump into the 34-degree water alongside Delta employees, bringing together the two airlines for a common cause. In all, 38 employees from Delta partners, including Air France and Endeavor, joined Delta Air Lines in the Polar Plunge, helping to support over 8,200 Special Olympic athletes across Minnesota.
“The Special Olympics is an incredible organization. Through sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths, abilities and skills to persevere into adulthood,” says Eric Klein, the General Manager of Demand Planning in Technical Operations. “The athletes find joy and confidence on the playing field while inspiring people in their communities to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential.”
Each year employees like Summer Abuelroos, a Senior Coordinator in Pilot Assist-Flight Operations, begin fundraising in January. Over the last five years, Summer has personally raised over $16,000 for the Special Olympics. Summer says that it is “inspirational to hear about the trials and tribulations of these athletes and to hear how being an Olympian helps them overcome obstacles” helps her understand why her efforts are so important.
To promote some friendly competition, employees form teams, complete with team names that share where the team originates from. This year some of the teams that participated were the Delta Frozen Flyers, the Chill’In Chiefs, Delta IT Deicers and the Tropical Hurricanes.
In the words of Klein, “we aren’t doing this for today; we are doing this for a better tomorrow.”