Round Two: Chrissy Motz raises goal-busting amount for Special Olympics Ohio

Chrissy Motz didn’t need to jump into freezing water to make a huge splash for the Special Olympics of Ohio.

Unable to participate in the 2024 Cleveland Polar Plunge for the first time in 15 years, the Streetsboro resident instead focused her energies on raising as much money as she could — and the most money — for the annual event, which benefits Special Olympic athletes. This year’s Plunge was held Feb. 24 at Gateway Plaza in downtown Cleveland, with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers sponsoring the event for the second year in a row.

Those efforts led to a clean fundraising sweep for Chrissy and her team, “Portage Grin and Bear It.” The team was the top fundraiser for the Plunge, raising over $11,907, while Chrissy ended up as both the top individual fundraiser and the top Special Olympic athlete fundraiser, raising over $6,485.

Both totals smashed the goals of $1,000 and $500, respectively, going into the Plunge.

“We are amazed at how many people donated to Chrissy even though she was not able to physically plunge this year,” Chrissy’s mother, Fran, said. “It shows how many caring and generous people are still out there.”

And devoted people. Despite a chill factor of around 20 degrees thanks to a strong wind whipping through downtown Cleveland, “Grin and Bear It” team members Cassie Cramer, TJ Harrod, John Bodnar, Jesse Hodges and Jake Ferlito donned their swimsuits and bravely took the plunge into the frigid waters of the makeshift pool that was set up outside Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse (check out video of the event here). Linda Ferlito and Erin Mangan are also members of the team.

Cramer’s participation in particular illustrated the true spirit of the event.

“Cassie Cramer is a Streetsboro Middle School teacher that knew Chrissy in school. She had Chrissy in her class,” Fran said. “She remembered Chrissy and knew how important this plunge is to her and other Special Olympic athletes. She offered to jump in for Chrissy even though she had never plunged before. A great big thank you to Cassie Cramer. We are so touched by the impact that Chrissy has made in this community and surrounding communities.”

A total of $121,385 was raised for this year’s Cleveland Polar Plunge. Donations can still be made here or by sending a check made out to Special Olympics to: Chrissy Motz, 825 David Dr., Streetsboro, OH 44241.

As Chrissy explained in last week’s Round Two, every dollar makes a difference and every supporter is appreciated. “Thank you for donating, caring, and praying for me and my team,” she said.


My wife and I love going to concerts at the Kent Stage. Everything about it screams nostalgia, from the marquee on East Main Street to the old-school concert posters and flyers that adorn the windows at the entrance to the theater itself, built in 1927.

The place just drips with character. First of all, it’s intimate, with a listed capacity of just 642. Secondly, unlike a lot of venues now, it’s got a no-frills vibe: You’re there to enjoy a performance. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s all about the music. And third, they get some tremendous acts there. In the last few years alone we’ve seen Don Felder, Donnie Iris, Lindsey Buckingham, Al Stewart, Andy Summers and The Fixx, and we’ve got tickets coming up for Crystal Gayle and Judy Collins. And we haven’t ruled out seeing Peter Yarrow or Graham Nash. Dave Mason and Joan Osborne are coming too, but you can’t go to every concert. Can you?

There’s a whole lot of rock history that makes a point of coming to Kent, Ohio — which has its own special place in rock history, of course, with the likes of Joe Walsh, Chrissie Hynde, Devo, Glass Harp and the Raspberries, among others, famously cutting their musical teeth in Kent.

So my wife and I recently decided to donate to become members of the Friends of the Kent Stage. May as well go all in, we figured; we’re there often enough. Membership money goes toward the historic venue’s ongoing upgrades and preservation, and a lot has been done in the last few years in that regard already.

To become a Friends of the Kent Stage member, go here and click the “Membership” link. If nothing else, we’re looking forward to just being a little more connected to Kent’s iconic musical heritage.


We’ve had a lot of them, but a couple moments in particular stand out.

One was at the Don Felder concert when, right at the conclusion of the show when he was slapping hands with fans and tossing guitar picks, he suddenly looked at me (by this time we had made our way to the lip of the stage), grinned and said over the din, “Nice shirt!” I looked down at my shirt, looked back up at him, and that’s when I realized that we were both wearing Led Zeppelin concert T-shirts, only I hadn’t noticed it before because his was partially hidden underneath the jacket he was wearing.

That’s what I mean about intimate. At the Kent Stage, iconic guitarists not only notice the shirt you’re wearing, but tell you about it, too.

And speaking of iconic guitarists, at one point during the Lindsey Buckingham concert — that point late in a show when the masses begin to crush against the stage — he came over to our side of the stage and, not missing a note, thrust his guitar toward the throng just a few feet away, a move that was predictably met with a pile of hands reaching to pluck the strings. Somehow, I got my entire right hand on Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar strings to the point that his hand hit mine a couple times as he played. It was only for a few seconds, but I count it as a literal brush with rock ’n roll greatness.

At many venues, that will get you thrown out or arrested. At the Kent Stage, iconic musicians do it on purpose to engage with the fans. I’m sure some artists prefer a line of demarcation between themselves and the crowd, but the ones who enjoy that up-close-and-personal interaction — like Donnie Iris, for example — are what make the Kent Stage special.

Next up: Crystal Gayle. Another one to check off my bucket list.

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Tom Hardesty is a Portager sports columnist. He was formerly assistant sports editor at the Record-Courier and author of the book Glimpses of Heaven.