What began as a “bucket list” item for Robin A. Muksian, Ph.D., who serves as the Director of Administration for the City of Cranston, has become a passion. Since 2010, she has raised more than $30,000 for the Special Olympics RI by going into the cold ocean water on Jan. 1.
Once again, this year she will be spending New Year’s Day at the 42nd Annual Penguin Plunge for Special Olympics RI at Roger Wheeler State Beach in Narragansett. Thousands of individuals will be “Freezin for a Reason” when they take the plunge at exactly 12 noon to raise money for Special Olympics Rhode Island. This coming year, 2018, marks the 50th Anniversary of the Special Olympics and this year’s Penguin Plunge will kick off a yearlong celebration.
“It’s going to be the “Coolest Event” in RI with plenty of chills, thrills and fun for the whole family,” said Dennis DeJesus, Executive Director of Special Olympics RI.
“It’s become a passion,” said Muksian, “and on any of the days that have been particularly cold, the whole thing is made so much easier because the Special Olympians are there cheering us on. They illustrate perseverance – and we simply model their lifetime efforts for 15 or 20 minutes a year.”
The Penguin Plunge for Special Olympics is one of the original New Year’s Day Plunges in Rhode Island and has been a tradition for generation after generation of plungers. All proceeds from this event benefit more than 3,500 athletes that compete year-round in over 1,600 training opportunities and athletic competitions.
“It is impossible to work around the great athletes who participate in Special Olympics RI and not be inspired by their amazing drive. It’s what gives me the motivation to run into the water in January,” said Muksian.
“Simply stated Robin is a champion within our community,” said DeJesus. “Robin has now become one of our leading fundraisers each and every year in support of the great athletes of Special Olympics Rhode Island…We are very fortunate to have an advocate like Robin and on behalf of the 3,500 athletes, we serve.”
Muksian was asked to serve as an Excelsior several years back. Each year two to four people are selected to help in plunge preparation and lead the charge into the water. From that time forward, an Excelsior is always identified by a red bow tie. She said that she would be proudly wearing the red bow again this year.
“It is a fun morning and plungers love to have people come down and cheer them on. It adds to the excitement for us and it brings greater awareness to an awesome cause,” said Muksian.
The yearly event usually raises anywhere from $70,000 to $100,000, which helps offset much of the cost of the Summer Games at URI.
“The hardest is convincing myself to peel my polar fleece off, knowing I’m going to stand there for 10 or 15 minutes in a bathing suit,” said Muksian. “Hitting the water initially is hard, but if the air and water are the same, it’s the best of situations! If the air is too warm, the water feels awful.”
“After [getting out of the water], the sense of exhilaration keeps me on the warm side for about 10 minutes and then the cold hits me hard,” said Muksian.
To donate to Robin Muksian’s efforts in raising fund for Special Olympics RI, you may donate at www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/robin-muksian/42nd-Annual-Penguin-Plunge or you can write a personal check to Special Olympics RI with a notation that it is for Robin Muksian’s efforts to Special Olympics RI, 370 George Washington Hwy, Smithfield, RI 02917.
For more information about the 2018 Penguin Plunge for Special Olympics Rhode Island please contact Tracy Garabedian, Director of Development at 349-4900 ext. 321 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.