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'It's a really great cause': Wyoming business owner is big fundraiser for Special Olympics MI

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Posted at 4:00 PM, Mar 26, 2021
PIF POM March 2021

Rob VanSuilichem had no idea that taking the plunge from a plane in 2010 would lead to a long history of plunging for Special Olympics Michigan.

"I posted a video online, of me skydiving back in 2010," VanSuilichem recalled. "At the time I had just reconnected with a friend from school, her son's in Special Olympics and he saw the video and 'hey, let's challenge him to do the polar plunge."

That athlete was Brittan Appleberry, and his challenge was quickly accepted.

"There's no way I could have said no to him... We started raising money and within the first few days we had $2,000 dollars for the cause".

VanSuilichem dubbed the team "The Everdry Plungers" as a nod to his business, Everdry Waterproofing in Wyoming.

"It stuck," he said. "We'll try it one time, if it's fun we'll do it again. If it's not, we won't. And it was fun and rewarding. 2021 is our 11th plunge."

The polar plunge is held every winter, with participants raising money to jump into frigid water.

Appleberry plunges alongside VanSuilichem and the team each year.

"Since we started, we've raised somewhere in the neighborhood of $125,000 thousand dollars for the cause and that's just our team," VanSuilichem told FOX 17 News. "Every year we get better costumes and we do a little bit more for the cause. It's just been a fun experience and just a great adventure."

In light of the pandemic, the Polar Plunge has become a virtual fundraiser in 2021.

VanSuilichem organized a special sledding event in Richmond Park, complete with a soaking at the bottom of the hill from the Grand Rapids Fire Department.

"It means a lot to us, we push really hard to do the best we can every year," he said. "You make the most of it... this was our second biggest fundraising year, even with the pandemic."

Individually, VanSuilichem estimates he's raised between $50,000- $60,000 thousand dollars.

"It's a really great cause, everyone deserves to be included in life and sports and things like that," said VanSuilichem. "People say if you're not living, you're dying, while I say if you're not doing good, you're doing bad."

The Wyoming businessman has also rappelled down buildings in downtown Grand Rapids for Easter Seals, and taken on the "Ice Bucket Challenge" for ALS.

Fundraising for the2021 Virtual Polar Plunge continues until April 1st.

To donate to VanSuilichem's fundraising page, click here.

To donate to the 'Everydry Plungers', click here.

As the FOX 17 and Lake Michigan Credit Union Pay it Forward Person of the Month, VanSuilichem is receiving a $550 prize.

Know someone who should be featured next month? Nominate them here.

Meet Jenna Arcidiacono, our February 2021 Pay it Forward Person of the Month.