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OSU to host Chilly Cowboy events

Feb. 23—Oklahoma State University will be hosting its Chilly Cowboy Auction and Cold Plunge in the days to come in order to support Special Olympics Oklahoma and OSU's own special needs students.

The Chilly Cowboy Auction will be hosted during halftime of the men's bedlam basketball game at 6 p.m. this Saturday in Gallagher-Iba Arena. The Chilly Cowboy Cold Plunge will follow on Monday, beginning at noon at the OSU Student Union Plaza.

Darren Shrum, husband of OSU President Kayse Shrum, said 2024 will be the third year of Chilly Cowboy events.

Chilly Cowboy began with one person: Chelsea Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald played softball at OSU for five years, and within those five years of softball occupying her time, she was never able to enact her dream of creating more involvement in regards to the Special Olympics — which was important to her since her brother has special needs.

Eventually, she approached Shrum — who has a background in kinesiology and special education — who she believed could help her with her dream.

"We came up with this idea, Chilly Cowboy, to raise money for Special Olympics," Shrum said. "Stillwater is such a big place for that because we do (the Oklahoma Special Olympics Summer Games) in May, and we have anywhere from 4,000-8,000 special needs people in town."

Shrum believed he could help, but his one request was for all funds to stay within Payne County. He reached out to Special Olympics Oklahoma, and they said it would be perfectly fine.

For the first year, Shrum set a goal of $10,000. The second year, a goal was set for $50,000. This year, Shrum has set a goal to raise $75,000.

If the $75,000 goal is met, Shrum hopes to develop a scholarship for OSU's Unified program. The hope is this scholarship would be funded by the proceeds from the Chilly Cowboy Cold Plunge, and the scholarship would continue yearly.

As for the Chilly Cowboy Auction, past items have included Malcom Rodriguez Detroit Lions jerseys, on-field experience passes, and more. This year, Shrum said a definite auction item are two of Ollie Gordon's jerseys.

Gordon will also be present during the auction to represent his jerseys. The auction will be run by Aden Kelley — a junior at OSU who is on the football team — who Shrum said he saw act as an auctioneer on TikTok. A handful of other football players will assist Kelley as spotters.

Shrum asks these students to be involved because it is important to him that the Chilly Cowboy events be student-driven.

"When Kayse and I came here, it was all about the students, period," Shrum said. "And that's the way I've wanted to keep it."

As for Monday's Chilly Cowboy Cold Plunge, Shrum ensured that he would reach out to the entire campus. Some of those who raised money and will be making the plunge include Shrum himself, OSU Athletic Director Chad Weiberg, deans from each college, and many coaches and student athletes.

"This year there will be several figure heads, but like Leon Jones, he's our police chief and he is going to dunk in full uniform, so he says," Shrum said.

Shrum laughed, saying he is also in the process of trying to convince his wife to take the plunge, as well.

In the Student Union Plaza, there will be multiple dunk tanks set up — one single dunk tank and one double dunk tank. There will also be a larger plunge option for groups that want to take the plunge.

Robert Allen, one of OSU's main athletic reporters, will also be in attendance. Allen will set up his radio show from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and, if he can raise his goal of $10,000, he will also take the plunge.

Shrum said the Student Union Plaza is typically filled with students during the Chilly Cowboy Cold Plunge, and, this year, he expects around 250-350 people.

"I think that's the most important thing is exposure and supporting these folks," Shrum said. " ... These folks just want to be loved on just like everybody else, and it's really no different, they just have special needs, they have different needs. They still yearn for approval, to be competitive, to win, to be acknowledged for that and, truly, just to be loved on."

Individuals can donate at the auction, at the plunge or online at classy.org.