Taking an icy dip for Special Olympics

Ashli Stempel-Rae

By Ashli Stempel-Rae
Ashli Stempel-Rae is a communications consultant for MassMutual.
Posted on Mar 3, 2022

For Ian Frederick, a financial professional with Commonwealth Financial Group in the Boston area, building a community of inclusion for those with disabilities and special needs is a family effort.

Since joining the Special Olympics New Hampshire (SONH) board of directors two years ago, Frederick has personally raised more than $10,000 for the organization, mainly through the Penguin Plunge, a winter dive into icy waters that annually generates more than $570,000 for people with intellectual disabilities. Frederick’s wife is an occupational therapist who works closely with families with special needs, so his membership on the board was a natural crossover for serving a community they both care so much about.

“Through what was a challenging year all around, participating on the SONH board and fundraising in the local community has been a very rewarding experience that’s given me a great sense of pride,” Frederick said.

In addition to raising funds, Frederick recruits colleagues, clients, and friends to participate in the Penguin Plunge and is hard at work planning a new board charity golf tournament.

“Ian has literally ‘plunged’ into action raising much-needed funds for SONH athletes as part of the Penguin Plunge,” said Carol Cray, vice president of development, SONH. “Ian’s can-do attitude has catapulted him from just a board volunteer to board leader. His peers look at his success in fundraising as a model and bring some of his tactics to their own employers, colleagues, and clients.”

Frederick’s continued service to SONH earned the organization a $10,000 grant from the MassMutual Foundation as part of its 2021 Community Service Awards (CSA) program.

Discovering new strengths through sport

SONH provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Since its founding in 1970, SONH has improved the lives of thousands of people and become much more than just an athletic organization.

Absent the pandemic, SONH encompasses a program of year-round sports training and athletic competition in 17 sports serving over 3,024 athletes throughout the Granite State. Additionally, SONH offers programs in health and education and opportunities for inclusion on a platform that communicates the dignity and value of people with intellectual disabilities starting at a young age.

Through sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths, abilities, and skills. The athletes find joy, confidence, and fulfillment, both on the playing field and in life. They inspire their communities to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential, shifting focus to what the athletes CAN do, not what they can’t do.

Grant to support training for 2022 Special Olympics

SONH will send 80 athletes — its largest delegation ever — to the 2022 USA Games to compete for the gold in track and field, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian events, golf, powerlifting, softball, sprint triathlon, and swimming.

The $10,000 grant from the MassMutual Foundation will help fund micro-competitions in the 10 sports in which SONH athletes will compete, allowing for up-to-date scores and giving each athlete a fair opportunity at being one of the 80 who will represent New Hampshire at the 2022 USA Games.

Each year, the MassMutual Foundation awards grants — ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 — to help nonprofit organizations with which MassMutual financial professionals are involved. You can read more about the program here.

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