From the Sierra Nevada to the foothills and valley, teams from CDCR raised funds for Special Olympics. Some recently plunged in Lake Tahoe after a snow storm while others caught a break with a warm spring day at Lake Natoma. This is a look at some of those efforts.

Headquarters, DVI, HDSP brave snow to take plunge

By CDCR staff
Photos by Scott Sabicer, Director, Television Communications Center

Km & Juanita

Katherine Minnich, Deputy Director of Human Resources, and Juanita Hernandez, Special Assistant to Undersecretary Diana Toche.

Staff from CDCR Headquarters, Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI) and High Desert State Prison (HDSP) braved the snow March 18 for the Special Olympics Polar Plunge at South Lake Tahoe’s Zephyr Cove. Originally scheduled for the prior day, heavy snowfall and white-out conditions forced the postponement.

DVI’s 47-member team raised over $21,000. High Desert State Prison’s team raised nearly $6,400 while Headquarters staff raised over $5,400.

The HQ team consisted of Katherine Minnich, Deputy Director, Human Resources (Team Captain); Albert Rivas, Chief Office of External Affairs; Sarina Calderon, Chief, Office of Workforce Planning; Wendy Enos, Special Assistant to Secretary Scott Kernan; Juanita Hernandez, Special Assistant to Undersecretary Diana Toche; and staff from Human Resources and Accounting.

“The Special Olympics organization is important to me, because it empowers and promotes a healthy lifestyle for individuals with intellectual disabilities physically, mentally and emotionally. By providing an opportunity to play sports, the Special Olympics builds friendships, confidence, and teamwork,” Minnich said.

The snow enhanced the event, according to Minnich.

“It was an exhilarating experience to be a part of CDCR staff displaying spirit and support for a great cause. We definitely embraced our team name, Freezin’ for a Reason,” she said.

According to event organizers, the South Lake Tahoe Polar Plunge raised $199,190 with 400 people attending.

SCC staff gets wet for a cause

By Lt. Robert Kelsey, AA/PIO
Sierra Conservation Center

Sierra Conservation Center (SCC) and other teams from local law enforcement and community businesses participated in a Polar Plunge event Feb. 24 at Lake Tulloch in Jamestown to support the Northern California Special Olympics.

The event was a success and raised over $25,000, which will be used to support local Special Olympian athletes in their training and travel costs.

The water was chilly but the cause was definitely worthwhile and fun was had by all who attended.

The SCC team consisted of Warden (A) Hunter Anglea, Chief Executive Officer Robert Duncan, Lt. Robert Kelsey, Office Technician Hana McKinstry, Office Technician Cathy Sage, and the former SCC Community Resource Manager Dameion Renault.

“SCC has built a great relationship with the Northern California Special Olympics and participates in many fundraising events each year. This was by far the coldest but also one of the most fun to date,” said Warden Anglea. “SCC will definitely participate again next year and try to raise even more money for their great organization.”

CSP-Solano, Mule Creek and CSP-Sacramento dive into the effort

By Lt. John Ojo, AA/PIO
California State Prison, Solano

Sacramento State Aquatic Center at Lake Natoma near Folsom was the stage for a fun-filled Saturday morning on Feb. 24. It was partly cloudy, but a breezy 63 degrees. Over 500 smiling faces gathered to support the Plunge, a fundraiser for Special Olympic athletes.

The day’s events included an award ceremony for fundraising efforts, a costume contest, and the plunge. Over 200 brave souls dressed in an array of costumes, proudly charged into the chilly water as if charging into battle, and completely submerged themselves.

At the time the event began, over $61,000 dollars had been raised from all participants. However, donations are still welcome and accepted after the event.

The funds received will go directly to Northern California and Nevada Special Olympics to assist over 3,000 athletes. CSP-Solano’s team, led by Capt. Marlaina Dernoncourt, was all smiles.

“I’m participating because I wanted to raise money and raise awareness for Special Olympics in a fun and different way,” she said.

CSP-Solano was not the only CDCR institution in attendance. There was mutual aid response for this cause from CSP-Sacramento and Mule Creek State Prison who quickly gathered together and made one team. Three institutions responded to the call to assist others that they may never even meet.

Team CSP-Sacramento was the top fundraiser out of the three CDCR teams and was second highest for all participating law enforcement in this year’s Sacramento Polar Plunge with $6,375 in donations.

CSP-Solano raised $508 while MCSP raised $3,777.