Second annual Chilly Cowboy event raises more than $50,000 for Special Olympics Oklahoma
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
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Members of the Oklahoma State Athletics family took an icy plunge Monday to support Special Olympics Oklahoma during the second annual Chilly Cowboy.
After easily surpassing their goal of $30,000 in 2022, event organizers raised the bar to $50,000 this year. Once again, coaches and athletes took the plunge, and once again the Cowboy family came out in droves to support the cause, ultimately raising just over $50,000.
Former Cowgirl softball player Chelsea Alexander and First Cowboy Darren Shrum created the event last year.
“Every time Darren and I get the opportunity to support student philanthropy that goes toward making students' lives better, we are so excited to do that,” OSU President Kayse Shrum said. “This is a great example of our student athletes supporting our Special Olympics athletes.
“Part of the Cowboy Code is we finish what we start, and this is finishing and jumping in the water.”
The first fundraising threshold for this year’s event was $10,000, with more prominent OSU personalities to be dunked as the total climbed. At the $50,000 goal, first-year Cowgirl basketball coach Jacie Hoyt found herself in the cold seat.
“Last year we raised $34,000 in our first year to do this and I thought it was incredible, so we set a stretch goal to raise $50,000,” Darren Shrum said. “And as usual, the Cowboy family stepped up.”
Fundraising included a text-to-give raffle, an auction during the recent Cowboy men’s basketball home game against TCU and donations made to the Chilly Cowboy website. During the auction, a game-worn jersey from Detroit Lions linebacker Malcom Rodriguez, an OSU alumnus, sold for $9,500.
“I think it's just a really cool way to combine things I am passionate about and that is OSU athletics and Special Olympics Oklahoma,” Alexander said.
This year, a portion of the proceeds will go to an organization called the OSU Unified College Program, which benefits Special Olympics student-athletes at OSU. The organization partners OSU students with Special Olympics athletes who compete against other unified university athletes.
“The money that we raise, I think of it as athletes helping athletes,” Alexander said. “It's really cool for us to use our platform and give back to the community that is so strong here. And this year I’m really excited because a portion of our proceeds are going to help OSU Unified. It is really an exciting time for us to help out our community here throughout Stillwater and throughout Oklahoma.”
Members and coaches from OSU baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, equestrian, football, rodeo, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, track and field, and wrestling participated. Among them was football coach Rob Glass, assistant athletic director of athlete performance, who was at the $40,000 tier.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping the Special Olympics,” Glass said. “We’ve had powerlifting for years and this is a great opportunity to get people together for a great cause.”
As the donations climbed over the week, Hoyt didn’t know if the $50,000 tier would be reached, but when a couple of late donations poured in Monday morning, she did her best to withstand the cold water.
“I think that Oklahoma State is just an amazing family,” Hoyt said. “It’s a testament to the people here and always having so many people who are willing to be selfless and have each other's backs and just support in whatever way possible.”
Members from the defending national champion Cowgirl Equestrian team also took the plunge and were thankful for the warmer weather despite the freezing cold water.
“If it wasn’t for such a good cause I don’t know if I would be willingly jumping into an ice bath,” said senior Caroline Neilson.
Neilson said seeing the athletes come together in support of the Special Olympics was inspiring. She said she hopes the event continues to inspire others to give back.
“We are some pretty chilly Cowgirls, but it was 100% worth it,” she said.
Story By: Olivia Trolinger | firstname.lastname@example.org