FRAMINGHAM- “Ladies first,” my oh-so-gentlemanly husband said with a smile as we stepped up to the edge of the pool at Exhibit A Brewery in Framingham. A frigid 46 degrees outside, there are very few reasons why I might be about to jump into a pool filled with cold water. Yet watching so many others go before me and knowing the reason why we were all there, I had put on my (pink) big girl leggings prepared to make a splash…literally!
Raising one hand and holding my nose, I jumped in knowing the funds that each team raised at the day’s Polar Plunge Challenge were going to benefit the Special Olympics of Massachusetts. It’s a cause that is close to the heart for Kelsey Roth, General Manager of Exhibit A Brewing in Framingham, who explained how he began volunteering with the organization just last year at their summer games and was inspired to bring the Polar Plunge Challenge to his own backyard. “I was just blown away by what they do to help people with intellectual disabilities and create such a great environment for them. So often, people who have intellectual disabilities are always focused on the things they CAN’T do. But for the time that they’re out there doing these activities, it’s really focused on what they CAN do that day and for those people, it’s a life changing moment.”
Thanks to the combined efforts Kelsey, Exhibit A’s Head Brewer Matt Steinberg and just over 50 fellow plungers, Fundraising and Events Coordinator for the Special Olympics Meghan O’Neil reported $8,500 was raised. “This goes towards the venues, athletes’ uniforms, equipment, lift tickets for skiers, things like that,” she explained. “This helps them focus on competing and having fun and meeting new people, so we’re really excited for the support that comes from the community.”
Also contributing to the plunge in a more unique way was a company called The Spa Wagon, a mobile sauna with an inside temperature of 190 degrees. As someone who is notoriously known for always being cold (I will always be #teamsummer), this caught my attention INSTANTLY and I just had to learn more about the fact that yes, you can actually have your own personal sauna brought virtually anywhere a truck & trailer could fit. “Originally, we’re from the Ukraine and it’s part of our culture since we were kids to go to saunas and try to get some quality heat. That’s one of the things that we were missing here, so we try to bring that culture here and give it to the public,” says Klim Gotovkin, who donated part of the day’s proceeds directly to Special Olympics MA. Of course, I had to go inside myself and check it out-and it did not disappoint! With steam billowing out each time you opened the door, it was a perfect way for those dressed for summer to get some much-needed warmth after the chilly dip.
Outside, the beer garden featured Exhibit A crowd favorites like the Cat’s Meow, Demo Tapes, and Goody Two Shoes. Inside, more craft options were on tap to pair with food from local restaurants to keep plungers warm (like the delicious Shepherd’s Pie made by Red Heat Tavern that I may or may not have had several mini-cups of. You know, because they’re mini, so no calories, right?!). The brewery’s presentation didn’t disappoint: those who participated in the challenge were invited to dine under perfectly hung string lights at a buffet set up alongside the giant tanks and canning line to make for a unique dining experience. Bummed you missed out? Not to worry-Exhibit A is known for hosting several shindigs throughout the year in the same setting, so just keep an eye on their website for the next upcoming event.
Want to see for yourself how much fun you can have giving back at their next event? Check out my vlog post below-don’t forget to hit SUBSCRIBE while you’re there! 🙂 To join in the next plunge, sign up for the next Special Olympics MA Polar Plunge on their website at: https://www.specialolympicsma.org/events/fundraising-events/polar-plunge/