Kirby Stephens Design

Being Brave in the Attempt

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” — Special Olympics oath

Brave in the attempt. It feels as though I’ve spent my life attempting to be brave. Too afraid of failure, or disappointment, or of what others might think of me to seize the day, I’ve often allowed thrilling opportunities to pass me by.

Bravery is scary, is it not? It’s the proverbial edge of the cliff, where you can choose to jump into the wide world of the unknown. Maybe you’ll hate it, maybe you’ll love it — it’s really all to chance. Of course, that’s also what makes bravery exciting. It’s learning how to accept what happens after you take the leap — good, bad or ugly — the effort you make and the outlook you have that help you grow as a person.

It seems fitting that Special Olympics Kentucky would embrace this internal struggle through its annual fundraising event, the Polar Plunge. It’s more than simply raising money, or pledging support for the program. Special Olympics Kentucky asks you to go the extra mile by committing to take a leap into some seriously frigid lake water in the middle of winter.

Against my better judgment, I said yes when my friend Candice Pace recruited me to be part of her team, the Polar Belles. For a month I considered the negative effects of my decision. What if I got sick? What if it was snowing? What if I just sponsored her and saved myself the trouble of knowing what it actually feels like? I’d much prefer to be curled up in a blanket by a fire in my basement.

But then I considered this: I’m lucky to have this opportunity to be brave, and that must be how people involved with the Special Olympics feel too. Through the hard work of many dedicated individuals, athletes with intellectual disabilities are afforded the opportunity to chase their dream and feel good about themselves. Where would I be without the people in my life who have given me those things during the last 35 years? And while my two brave minutes out of 525,949 in a year pale in comparison to the bravery these athletes embrace every day of their lives, I would be remiss not to take them. I decided not to let this one pass me by.

I’m so glad I jumped into that 33-degree water. I’ve never felt anything quite like it. In a split second, my body was embraced by a shock that reached into my lungs and robbed me of breath. I shivered on and off all day. And I smiled. A lot.

The Polar Belles — also including Tara Kaprowy, Tiffany Bourne and Joy Simpson and sponsored by KSD Kinetic Strategic Design — raised $1,222 for Special Olympics Kentucky to continue its mission of providing outstanding life experiences for athletes with intellectual disabilities. The Lake Cumberland event, one of six plunges across the state, raised $16,123 for the organization. KSD not only donated to the event, but also provided our team T-shirts, which were illustrated by our own Bill Jones.

I offer a tremendous thanks to all of you who sponsored the Polar Belles in our effort to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics Kentucky. I’m already looking forward to taking the plunge next year. Won’t you join us? It’s a rush to be brave in the attempt. 

Polar Belles

The Polar Belles, sponsored by KSD Kinetic Strategic Design, raised $1,222 for Special Olympics Kentucky. From left, Andrea Clue, Tiffany Bourne, Julie Harris, Tara Kaprowy, Joy Simpson, Candice Pace and Kristen Reynolds. Top photo: Kaprowy and Harris take the plunge into Lake Cumberland.

polar belles illustration

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