- Come Saturday, February 22, you’ll see Cindy Zimmermann plunging into the icy waters of the Aurora Reservoir for the .
Jumping or running into freezing cold waters in the middle of winter might seem crazy, but for Cindy, it has a powerful significance.
Cindy does the Polar Plunge each year to keep the memory of her son, Patrick, alive. Patrick passed away over three years ago at the age of 16 from Niemann-Pick Type C, a very rare disease that only about 500 people in the world have. It affects the brain, spleen, and liver. As a result, he suffered from seizures and lost his ability to speak, walk and talk. He had the disease since birth, but only received a diagnosis in 2015—a year and a half before he passed away.
Unified Sports allowed Patrick to continue in sports even as his body failed him.Cindy Zimmermann | Patrick's Mother
Patrick attended Legend High School where he got involved in the Unified program with Coach Jeremy Dorr and competed in Unified basketball and lacrosse. He loved sports. “Unified Sports allowed Patrick to continue in sports even as his body failed him,” said Cindy.
“Faith was a major support system,” said Cindy, who mentioned they have a loving community who supported and encouraged them in countless ways. She explained that keeping their faith is what “sustained her family and continues to sustain them.”
The Aurora Polar Plunge always falls around Patrick’s birthday, February 12. Cindy began plunging right after he passed and has been coming back ever since. “Plunging is my way of giving back to the families that took care of him,” explained Cindy, who also sees it as a way of keeping her son’s memory alive.
Each year, Cindy sets her fundraising goal to how old Patrick would have been. This year, he would have been 20 years old, so her fundraising goal is $2,000. Last year, she exceeded her goal of $1,900 and raised $2,300 for Special Olympics Colorado.
“Fundraising and participating in the Polar Plunge is a wild and crazy way to raise funds for Special Olympics Colorado,” Cindy said. “I encourage all to Plunge! Their efforts [Plunging] will bring the joy of sports to Special Olympics athletes in Colorado!”
Cindy emphasized that Patrick loved sports and how she enjoyed watching the kids play and seeing the joy on their faces. “Everyone needs that,” said Cindy, who wants to continue to share the joy of sports with other kids.
The Aurora Polar Plunge presented by Westerra Credit Union will be at the Aurora Reservoir on Saturday, February 22.