As a communication coach for people with developmental disabilities, Stony Brook University graduate student Katie Henthorne focuses on finding ways for Peter Lowery to learn life skills and social skills. They work together toward goals aimed at helping Peter integrate into the community and take challenges head on. So on a windy November day, when hundreds of Long Islanders jumped into the chilly waters at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai to benefit the New York Special Olympics, Katie and Peter went in, arm in arm, for their first Polar Plunge. With their team, the Polar Sharks, Peter and Katie helped raised $4,000 for the Special Olympics.
The annual Polar Plunge, named “Freezin’ for a Reason,” raised $130,000 from nearly 1,000 participants. The Polar Sharks, named after Peter’s favorite undersea creature, each wore a special shark hat created by Peter’s mother just for the occasion. “Peter was so proud. He loved it.”
As a graduate student in the social work program, Katie brings her enthusiasm and compassion to her work teaching independence and lending support to those in need. For Peter, being able to socialize more is important, and Katie provides the help, even if that means running in to freezing water.