Special Olympics Florida

Freezin’ for a reason

Gruber (left) with his cousin Jarret, a Special Olympics Florida athlete

Inspiration can come from just about anywhere. When it comes to joining the Special Olympics movement as a fundraiser for Special Olympics Florida, this certainly holds true. Every fundraiser has his or her own unique story about how they got hooked on the cause.

But what doesn’t seem to change much in the stories is: once you’re hooked, you’re hooked. Jason Gruber of Clearwater is one of those “hooked” individuals. Gruber recently completed his fifth Polar Plunge this past weekend braving freezing water as a winter warrior to raise money for our athletes as part of one of our biggest fundraisers for Special Olympics Florida.

His dedication came by way of his cousin, Jarett, who has autism and participates in multiple sports for Special Olympics Florida, as well as his employer Tech Data, who has been participating in Polar Plunge for over the past five years as well.

“I started to participate because of Tech Data and their interest in this charity. I always want to give back and help great kids, so this was perfect for me. My cousin Jarett, he’s my main motivation along with all the other amazing athletes,” said Gruber.

Polar Plunge is an annual fundraising drive held by Special Olympics Florida. Participant’s ? or “plungers” ? raise funds to get wild and plunge into chilly water at five different locations across the state. The latest plunge was held on December 8 in Orlando at Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark where Tech Data and Gruber participated.

2018 marks Gruber’s fifth year of plunging. Thanks to his increased dedication over the years, Gruber hoped to raise $8,000 for Polar Plunge.


Gruber (second to the left) at Polar Plunge, Aquatica Orlando

My fundraising goals are usually around $4,000, but my goal every year is to raise as much as possible. This year my goal is to raise over $8,000, but every time I hit my goal, I make a new goal, and I’m very close to $8,000 now,” said Gruber.

Gruber was able to raise over $9,000 this past weekend, his biggest fundraising achievement yet.

Gruber has been the biggest fund raiser from the Tech Data plunge team the past three years and even though that’s not his main goal, he always tries to raise the most money as possible. Including this Polar Plunge season, Gruber has raised over $20,000 for Special Olympics Florida. Gruber is beyond proud of his employer, Tech Data, as well, who helped him get interested in Polar Plunge.

“I love the passion from my company and am very proud to work there. Tech data is truly inspiring the way we come together to help amazing athletes.”

Ultimately Gruber keeps coming back to do Polar Plunge every year because of the athletes. His main motivation is his cousin and Special Olympics Florida athlete, Jarret, but he also truly believes in the mission of Special Olympics and wants to support all the athletes who partake in the organization.

“I continue to plunge because I love Special Olympics and what it stands for. It’s so amazing, and I am honored to be a part of the fundraising efforts.”

This year, Tech Data employees celebrated their achievement as Top Team raising over 44,000 to support the athletes of Special Olympics Florida. 

To participate in Polar Plunge and support nearly 50,000 athletes visit PlungeFL.org to find a plunge location near you.