On Feb. 17, 2018, Jay Beere, general superintendent at Graycor Industrial, took a deep breath and locked hands with his daughter Tara as they were the first of 108 participants to leap into a pool of frigid water Saturday outside of Valparaiso University’s recreation center in Valparaiso, Indiana.
Following suit, the rest of Graycor’s team—consisting of Aaron Gonzales, boilermaker; Kevin Grooms, project director; Jason Mitchell, ironworker; James Nixon, engineer; and Chase Parkinson, safety engineer—also took the arctic plunge, holding onto each other as needed support for the bone-chilling challenge.
This year’s Freezin’ For A Reason Polar Plunge event marked the third year Jay has organized and championed a Graycor team to raise money in support of Special Olympics Indiana, a nonprofit group that gives children and adults with intellectual disabilities the chance to train and compete in Olympic-type sports.
The Top Individual award went to Jay for raising $18,017 for the charity; the Top Team award was given to Team Graycor for raising $21,817; and Graycor received a sponsorship award. The company’s Community Fund Program also donated to the charity.
Pledges and donations for the Special Olympics Indiana Valparaiso event totaled nearly $50,000.
“I’m so proud of our team and also of my daughter,” says Jay. “Tara’s dedication to this charity led me to get involved and others at Graycor to participate in Polar Plunge,” adds Jay, who looks forward to his next plunge in a couple of weeks at Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis.
Graycor’s team also included Regan Smiley, engineer, and Shane Walleske, superintendent, who helped raised funds but were unable to attend the event.