What better way to embrace the cold temperatures of winter than by participating in a heartwarming charitable-giving initiative? For Chartwell Montgomery Village employee and Special Olympics participant Ryan Macbean, jumping into cold water for a cause was never even a question. That's why he and his father decided to host and participate in a "Polar Plunge" for the second year in a row in the hopes of raising $30,000 for the Special Olympics.

Hard work and dedication
After seven years of dedicated practice, Ryan earned his black belt in karate in 2014 and decided he wanted to take a shot at a new sport. He tried golf and curling and then joined the Special Olympics in Orangeville, Ontario. As Ryan also loves to swim, but there was no team in Orangeville, he decided to join a new Special Olympics team in Georgetown. Amazingly, his hard work and passion for swimming has earned him a ticket to participate in the Special Olympics summer games in Guelph this coming May. According to his mother, Rachelle, his ultimate goal is to qualify for the National Games next year.

Ryan will be swimming in the Special Olympics this June.
Ryan will be swimming in the Special Olympics this May.

To support Ryan, his father, Kevin, is the volunteer provincial director for the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which is the flame-carrying tradition to open up the Special Olympics. To date, the LETR for Ontario has raised a whopping $23 million and has steadily increased public awareness for the Special Olympics.

Taking the Polar Plunge
Ryan's goal for his "Polar Plunge" was to raise enough money to support his whole swim team and cover the expenses for him to go to the Provincial Swim Meet in Guelph in May. If you're wondering just what this plunge entails, it's exactly what the name implies: Participants jump into icy waters—such as a lake or even a dunk tank—to raise money. Volunteers secure donations from friends, family members, coworkers and others throughout the community. Last year, reigning as the top fundraiser, Ryan raised over $2,400 for his plunge. Fundraising for the Special Olympics is very important to him, and he appreciates how much the events have made a positive impact on his life.

"Last year, Macbean raised over $2,400 for the plunge."

"I love the Special Olympics because I get to meet new friends, swim and compete in a sport that I love," he says. "I have a lot of fun during the year, not only with swimming, but we have dances and bowling parties."

A positive impact
Ryan's mother says the Special Olympics has given him and all of his peers many great opportunities to lead a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.

"It gives Ryan and so many other athletes a chance for social interaction, a confidence boost, and it also helps them to lead a healthy lifestyle by staying active," she says.

Ryan hopes to reach his goal of $2,500 so his name can be entered into a draw for a trip to Churchill Manitoba in June, which is the polar bear capital of the world!

The Macbean family's story with Montgomery Village
Ryan Macbean began volunteering at Chartwell Montgomery Village in 2014 and was offered a position on the team as a dishwasher last June. He explains he loves the opportunity to come to work and enjoys the staff and residents at the home. "Everyone is very friendly and we all have a lot of fun working together," he says. "It's really nice because we're always helping each other out."

Ryan's mother is also glad that her son works for the residence.

"We are so grateful that Ryan works in an environment that he adores," she says. "He loves going in for a shift and is always so proud to tell everyone where he works."

If you're interested in donating funds to the Special Olympics for Ryan's upcoming participation in their summer games, please reach out to Chartwell Montgomery Village at (226) 706-8527.