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OSU Unified members jump into the pool.
OSU Unified team members Wyatt Short, Emma Youngblood and Shanovia Forbes jump in at the Chilly Cowboy.

OSU's 3rd annual Chilly Cowboy raises support for Special Olympics

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Media Contact: Jordan Bishop | Editor, Department of Brand Management | 405-744-7193 |

Chilly Cowboy 2024

The Chilly Cowboy is still taking donations at:

Leon Jones was waiting for his moment in the dunk tank, and unlike his fellow volunteers, he didn’t need a change of attire.

Jones, Oklahoma State University’s police chief, was wearing his full uniform when he dropped into cold water on a somewhat balmy Chilly Cowboy.

OSU held its third annual Chilly Cowboy event on Monday, raising more than $50,000 for Special Olympics Oklahoma. 

The event features student-athletes, coaches, administrators and community members taking a plunge into a cold water pool and dunk tank.

“If you haven’t participated, come out and watch the Summer Games,” Jones said. “Please come out and watch, and you’ll want to donate. That’s the message, is donate to these guys so they’ll have a great time.”

It was created by former Cowgirl softball player Chelsea Fitzgerald and OSU First Cowboy Darren Shrum. The event aims to raise awareness and support for Special Olympics Oklahoma and its Unified College Program, which connects OSU students with individuals who have intellectual disabilities through shared experiences.

“Instead of just focusing on OSU athletics, we said, ‘Let’s involve the whole school, the whole community,’” Fitzgerald said. “This is all about inclusivity, and that’s really important and core to this event.”

This year's Chilly Cowboy also featured remarks from OSU President Kayse Shrum and representatives from Special Olympics Oklahoma. Attendees were encouraged to donate to the cause and watch as various OSU “celebrities” jumped into the chilly water. 

“As much as we give back to Special Olympics, the Special Olympics and Unified athletes give back to the OSU family just as much,” Shrum said. “It’s great to have them on campus and as part of the Cowboy family.”

The Chilly Cowboy is one of many ways that OSU supports Special Olympics Oklahoma. The university has also hosted the annual Special Olympics Summer Games for more than four decades and provides volunteers for various events throughout the year.

Various big names from OSU jumped, including softball pitcher Lexi Kilfoyl. She said giving back to the community is something everyone should do and that she’s excited to see how the program grows. 

“Whether it’s volunteering your time or money, I feel like a little bit goes a long way,” Kilfoyl said. “Whether it’s kindness, anything. It’s always good to give back.”

Jerome Loughridge, senior vice president and chief of staff, echoed this sentiment. He said he’s proud of the courage of Special Olympic athletes and that OSU is the place that was created for everyone, no matter their ability or how they were born.

“We have a long history of supporting Special Olympics at OSU,” Loughridge said. “The missions are beautifully aligned because we believe in giving everyone access regardless of their ability, where they were born or how they were reared. That’s who we are as a land-grant university.”

Around 100 people showed up to watch, and many of them cheered the chilly cowboys on. 

One of those cowboys, OSU running back Ollie Gordon, got Jones to jump into the cool water twice. Gordon, the reigning Doak Walker Award winner, said he believes everyone should support the Special Olympics and that the athletes are great people. 

“They’re people just like us,” Gordon said. “We’re all the same at the end of the day. They’re all lovely, just like we are. They support us, we support them.”

Story By: Mak Vandruff |

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