On many occasions during Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's political career, presumably prior to his political career, Emanuel has been told to go take a "jump in the lake." Those making that request, could not have known that one day he would comply with that request, jumping into his own Lake Michigan, in his own city of Chicago.
Not only did Mayor Emanuel take a "jump in the lake" today, he had a little help from his friends. There was the host of NBC's "Tonight Show," Jimmy Fallon, who entered the picture when, in an interview last month, he said he'd like to have Emanuel on as a Chicago guest.
First mistake by Fallon.
The Mayor Emanuel tweeted that he would come on the show if Fallon would do the Polar Plunge in Lake Michigan. Fallon said he wondered if he was being set up and asked if Chicago would have his back.
The crafty Mayor Emanuel, who knew that Fallon would be a fundraising magnet, was setting up Fallon.
At a news conference with Jen Kramer, president of Special Olympics Chicago, and former Chicago Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije, Emanuel expressed gratitude for his support team.
"Izzy will be in the water. I'll be on his shoulders," Emanuel said.
Kramer said this year's plunge will set a fundraising record of more than $1 million with more than 3,000 plungers. Last year, around 2,300 people braved the elements.
Kramer attributed much of the credit for this year's spike to the famous duo and their Twitter banter.
"When Mayor Emanuel announced, we saw a little increase then," she said. "And when Fallon committed, that's when we saw the big increase."
In addition to Mayor Emanuel and "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon, many local celebrities and city officials took the polar plunge. There was NFL star Israel Idonije, Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon and Chicago Park District Superintendent Mike Kelly who also participated in the 14th Annual Chicago Polar Plunge, which benefits the Special Olympics.
During the first annual citywide Summer of Learning, Mayor Emanuel challenged children participating in the “Rahm’s Readers” program that if they read a total of 2 million books, the Mayor, Idonije, and Commissioner Bannon would jump into Lake Michigan.
“I’m proud to have taken the plunge into Lake Michigan today, both to highlight the tremendous accomplishments of Chicago's children who read over 2 million books last summer and to benefit the Special Olympics, which serves thousands of Chicago athletes every year,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The Polar Plunge is a uniquely Chicago event, reminding us each year of the incredible strength and resilience of all the residents of the City of Chicago.”
The Rahm’s Readers program is a key part of the citywide Summer of Learning, which keeps students learning and engaged during the summer months when school is not in session. This past summer, Chicago was the first city to pilot a citywide digital badge system across hundreds of organizations and learning opportunities to visually represent and reward students’ achievements. The Summer of Learning has more than 100 local and national organizations offering opportunities to earn badges, with more than 1,000 badge-earning possibilities– across Chicago’s communities and connected to the world online.
The Special Olympics has programs in 170 countries with over 4 million athletes participating. Chicago’s Special Olympics chapter is one of the largest in the state of Illinois with over 5,000 athletes. The city of Chicago has long lasting ties with the Special Olympics as the Games began in Chicago at Soldier Field back in 1968. Chicago Special Olympics operates in the Chicago Park District and Chicago Public Schools from funds raised by the Special Children’s Charities.
Last year, more than 2,800 people participated in the annual Polar Plunge benefitting the Special Olympics. The Games began in Chicago at Soldier Field back in 1968 and serves thousands of Chicago athletes. Chicago Special Olympics operates in the Chicago Park District and Chicago Public Schools from funds raised by the Special Children’s Charities.
City of Chicago press release
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