Suburban fundraisers offer innovative ways to support a good cause

OK, so you have doused yourself with a bucket of ice water.

How about plunging into the icy waters of Lake Michigan or challenging yourself to a string of roller coaster rides?

While there are plenty of 5K runs for charity in the suburbs, other fundraisers planned for 2015 will give participants the chance to do something unique for a good cause. Here's a look at some of them.

Bathing in a slushy

Hundreds of people plan to celebrate New Year's Day in the coldest way possible. They're going to take a dip this morning in Lake Michigan as part of the 16th annual the Polar Bear Plunge at Waukegan Beach in Waukegan.

"It is a fresh way to start off the new year," said Julie Schneider, the manager of special recreation with the Waukegan Park District.

"It's like taking a bath in a slushy."

Hosted by the park district and the city of Waukegan, the event raises money for Waukegan athletic and scholarship programs for Special Recreation Services of Northern Lake County.

More plunges

Two Polar Plunge events will support Special Olympics. The first is scheduled for Feb. 22 at Fox Lake's Lakefront Park. The other is planned for March 1 at the Twin Lakes Recreation Area in Palatine.

Coaster marathon

Six Flags Great America and Special Olympics are again teaming up to offer the Sept. 27 Coaster Challenge.

Participants raise money for the chance to ride up to the distance of a marathon (26.2 miles) on the Gurnee amusement park's roller coasters, including Raging Bull and Goliath.

Jennifer Marcello, director of young athletes for Special Olympics Illinois, said the Coaster Challenge was held for the first time last year. More than 20 riders participated in the daylong event and helped raise $50,000.

She also pointed out that some had no trouble completing the 27 roller coaster rides it took to reach the marathon distance.

"We had many people who did it by lunch," Marcello said. "They just sat on the roller coaster and didn't get off."

Homeless for a night

An annual event in DuPage County does more than raise money to help the homeless; it requires participants to experience firsthand what it's like.

During Sleep Out Saturday on Nov. 7, people spend the night outside at sites across DuPage, including yards and parking lots. They sleep in boxes, tents and cars.

"It is truly impactful when you sleep out overnight and it's 25 degrees," said Mark Milligan of Bridge Communities, the Glen Ellyn-based nonprofit group that organizes the event.


There is Naperville CARES' Karaoke for a Cause on Jan. 29, Elgin Area Organization of Motorcycle Riders' Little Angels Pledge Run on May 17 and Bloomingdale Chamber of Commerce's 50 Men Who Cook on Sept. 26.

How to help your suburban neighbors in need

As part of Bridge Communities' annual Sleep Out Saturday fundraiser, participants will spend the night outside in cardboard boxes, tents or cars at sites throughout DuPage County to help raise awareness about homelessness. Photo Courtesy of Bridge Communities
Brave souls will start the new year today by taking a little dip in Lake Michigan as part of the 16th annual Polar Bear Plunge in Waukegan. Daily Herald file photo

Unique fundraisers

Polar Bear Plunge: New Year's Day plunge into Lake Michigan, starting at 10 a.m. at Waukegan Beach, 201 Seahorse Drive, in Waukegan. Info:

Karaoke for a Cause: Night of karaoke starting at 7 p.m. Jan. 29 at Aurelio's, 1975 Springbrook Square Drive, Naperville. Raises money for Naperville CARES. Info:

Fox Lake Polar Plunge: Participants dive into the Chain O' Lakes during the 1 p.m. Feb. 22 event in Fox Lake. Info:

Palatine Polar Plunge: Annual dip into the cold waters at the Twin Lakes Recreation Area in Palatine scheduled for noon March 1. Info:

Little Angels Pledge Run: An 80-mile motorcycle ride on May 17 that raises money to support Little Angels Center for Exceptional Care in Elgin. Info:

50 Men Who Cook: Residents, community leaders and dignitaries prepare recipes for attendees to sample and judge during the Sept. 26 cook-off in Bloomingdale. Info:

Coaster Challenge: Roller coaster riders raise money for Special Olympics during the Sept. 27 event at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee. Info:

Sleep Out Saturday: Participants spend the night outside on Nov. 7 at various sites throughout DuPage County to raise awareness about homelessness. Info:

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