Masuk football players to honor teammate by taking the Plunge

MONROE, CT — Masuk High School football players will be among the crowd running into the frigid waters of Great Hollow Lake for the Plunge at the Park this Saturday. They are participating in the Special Olympics fundraiser in honor of their teammate, James Dutkowsky, who has Down Syndrome.

Joe Kobza, left, head coach of the eighth grade Lions, always made sure James Dutkowsky was an important part of his team.

“We, as a team and as a community, believe that inclusion and involvement is imperative for the growth of every special athlete,” the Panthers’ fundraising page says. “We are proud of our teammate James Dutkowsky and will Plunge for him and for Special Olympics Connecticut! Please donate!”

As of Thursday night the team raised $3,348 for Special Olympics Connecticut. To support their efforts, click here to donate.

Another message on the team’s page reads: “We’re FREEZIN’ FOR A REASON and that reason is our teammate #61 James Dutkowsky and for all the amazing athletes that compete for Special Olympics Connecticut!”

Plunging into retirement

Police Sgt. Pete Howard, known by many for his involvement with the annual Plunge at the Park, plans to retire this spring after 27 years of service to the town. The plunge, which had a two year hiatus during to the pandemic, is coming back to Great Hollow Lake this Saturday – and Howard hopes it will be the most successful one yet.

Police Sgt. Pete Howard, left, with Ty Nicholson, manager of 574 Wines, 574 Monroe Turnpike.

He remembers watching a presentation on polar plunges throughout the state, while attending a Special Olympics Connecticut breakfast 12 years ago, and thinking of how Monroe could host its own at the lake on the beach side of Wolfe Park.

“We started small,” he said. “We had 25 people go into the water for our first Plunge at the Park.”

But Howard said the event has since grown to be the Monroe Police Department’s biggest fundraiser for the Special Olympics.

This Saturday’s event starts with an egg toss and a K-9 demonstration before the plunge at 1 p.m.

574 Wines gives 10%

On Saturday, 574 Wines, 574 Monroe Turnpike, will donate 10 percent of its sales to Special Olympics Connecticut on behalf of the Monroe Police Department.

Store manager, Ty Nicholson, will also run alongside Howard that day, taking a plunge into the freezing water.

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