Empowering Communities

ComEd Coolers turn out for first-ever virtual Chicago Polar Plunge

March 16, 2021

With COVID-19 precautions in place, it’s possible that some have forgotten what it’s like to go outside in the chilly winter weather. But not the “ComEd Coolers,” who celebrated their 10th year participating in Special Olympics Chicago’s (SOC) annual Chicago Polar Plunge to benefit approximately 7,500 athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

ComEd employees participating in the virtual plunge

For this year’s virtual plunge, hundreds of ComEd employees and their supporters raised more than $250,000 for Special Olympics Chicago…more than doubling the company’s fundraising goal.

Meet a few of the ComEd employees who helped make that happen and why supporting causes is important to them.

Senior Marketing Specialist Lisa Schuh plunged for her 15-year-old daughter who has Down syndrome. Joining Schuh and her ComEd colleagues in their virtual plunge were members of the Energy Force Ambassadors who are part of a program at ComEd that helps empower individuals with developmental disabilities.

“My passion for this cause comes from within because of my daughter. With help from my colleague, Michele Ptaszek, we created a virtual event since we can’t all gather like we typically would. We invited ComEd employees and Energy Force Ambassadors participants – who are also Special Olympians –to join in on the fun. ComEd’s Energy Force Ambassador program trains adults with developmental disabilities to serve as ambassadors for the ComEd Energy Efficiency program. Before we watched everyone plunge, the ambassadors discussed their involvement with the ComEd program and their experience with Special Olympics.”

Michele Ptaszek, manager of customer education and marketing, worked with Schuh to bring her team’s virtual plunge to life and was inspired by her son who has Down syndrome.

“I plunge to ensure that the kids and adults who want to participate, make friendships and stay physically active can do so. Lisa and I thought it was a win-win to promote the tie-in with our own Energy Force Ambassadors and Special Olympics. Inviting ComEd’s Energy Force Ambassadors to the plunge event to tell their stories was a natural connection. The feedback we have received post-event has been amazing. So many (70 plus) joined our event call and cheered on the plungers. It was a great event!”

Customer Solutions Vice President Erica Borggren recruited her 8-year-old daughter to join her ComEd colleagues in taking part in the Chicago Polar Plunge. Borggren says it is her Army experience that motivated her to plunge for each of the past six years.

“The ‘Army’ in me that makes me go all the way underwater each year – there’s something wonderfully teambuilding and energizing about tackling a hard moment together with so many coworkers and friends. I also have a heart for the ‘why’ of the Polar Plunge, thanks to serving as a Special Olympics volunteer as a West Point cadet and just generally loving opportunities to make a difference.”

Joe Svachula, vice president of strategic planning for ComEd’s parent company, Exelon Corporation, plunged in honor of his son who has Down syndrome.

“I’m so thankful this year’s plunge is virtual because it gives me an opportunity to share the experience with my son, Danny. Special Olympics provides opportunities for people like Danny to realize their true potential. And they help people like me so I can support Danny. An event like this is really a celebration of what we all can do.”