I sincerely need your help.
Every year a bunch of us cut a 10'x 6' hole in the ice of a small lake in Bath, MI, dress ourselves in silly costumes, and dive without hesitation into that frigid abyss to raise money for the Special Olympics of Michigan.
The Special Olympics is about athletics, but more importantly it is about overcoming obstacles to self-actualization and pride. Even though someone has an intellectual disability, it doesn't mean they don't have a rich internal and emotional life that yearns for challenge, respect, and happiness. I can't think of a more succinct demonstration of this than the documentary film "Up Syndome" by Duane Graves (http://www.trisomyfilms.com/upsyndrome.html).
Unfortunately irony is not always kind. A lot of folks with intellectual disabilities regularly face off against individuals who are just as disabled by their own ignorance, prejudice, and that whole legion of maladies symptomatic of socially-accepted narrow comfort zones and stunted internal growth. When the Special Olympics conducted a multi-national public opinion study of attitudes toward people with intellectual disabilities (administered by Gallup), they found over 60% of the world's population still believe people with intellectual disabilities should be segregated in schools and in the workplace.
Thankfully the Special Olympics exists. It is the largest advocacy group for individuals with intellectual disabilities in the world and I am proud to be a sponsor and volunteer. The Special Olympics of Michigan Polar Plunge is one of the coolest (coldest?) events ever, and I am so happy I can continue to support the SOMI another year by freezing my ass off for cash.
Thank you for considering a generous gift of your hard-earned dollars to help someone else. Every little bit helps -- $1 or $1000 -- it's money we wouldn't have without you.