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A Special Polar Plunge

April 18, 2012, 6:46 AM by Austin Hoffman

A Special Polar Plunge

The Polar Plunge has been a Special Olympics tradition for years. But sometimes you have look past the surface of the bone chilling water to find the true meaning of the event.
"She's really close to me; she's a really good friend," Polar Plunger Riley Kiesow said.

This weekend will be Riley Kiesow's fifth-consecutive polar plunge. He gives credit to his dad for getting him to take his first jump into the murky abyss of the Big Sioux River.

"When I was around third grade, my dad was doing it for a while and I don't know, one time sitting there, like, 'next year I think I'm going to do it,'" Kiesow said.

The first year he raised $1,100; $2,000 after that and then $2,200. Now, he's close to raising a total of $10,000 all by himself. But it's so much more than just raising money for the Special Olympics.

"She's a really good friend of mine, I've known her for a while, like kindergarten I think.  And she's special needs and for Special Olympics I thought it would be perfect," Kiesow said.

Kiesow has been friends with Ellie Stettnichs since they started school. She's the true motivation behind his plunging. Ellie's mother, Heather, couldn't be happier with what Kiesow has done.

"I think it's awesome. Like I said earlier, he's raised more than teams raise and teams have many people on them, and he as an individual has raised a significant amount on his own," Heather said.

She believes Kiesow gets his passion from growing up in the family he did; learning to be a compassionate and caring person.

"I think that Riley sees Ellie as just another classmate and another friend and I think that's the way that it should be," Heather said.

And for Kiesow, it's now time to make sure that $10,000 mark doesn't float away.

"I'm kind of on the ball this next week trying to get all the money I possibly can, but it's gonna be tough," Kiesow said.

You can help him reach his goal by visiting Riley Kiesow's 4LE fundraising page.

You can still register for the Sioux Falls' Polar Plunge.  The jump is scheduled for Saturday, April 21st. 

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