Suburban fundraisers offer innovative ways to support a good cause

  • The first Coaster Challenge at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee raised about $50,000 for Special Olympics Illinois. The event returns Sept. 27 to give roller coaster enthusiasts a way to have fun while raising money.

    The first Coaster Challenge at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee raised about $50,000 for Special Olympics Illinois. The event returns Sept. 27 to give roller coaster enthusiasts a way to have fun while raising money. Daily Herald file photo

  • 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.

    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.

    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

 
 
Posted1/1/2015 7:30 AM

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.

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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.

Others:

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.

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