A package of six cupcakes costs $19.99, raising money for the bakery's Polar Plunge team in the Special Olympics' fundraiser. Credit: Provided

LINCOLN PARK — French bakery Vanille Patisserie is selling Polar Plunge-themed cupcakes to raise money for the Special Olympics of Chicago’s fundraiser, which went virtual this year due to the pandemic.

The cupcakes are available through Sunday at Vanille, 2108 N. Clark St., and will raise money for the bakery’s team in the 2021 Chicago Polar Plunge. The Special Olympics’ largest annual fundraiser sees participants jump into the freezing Lake Michigan to raise money for its programs.

This year’s Polar Plunge is virtual for the first time in its 21-year history. The program helps fund more than 60 percent of programs for Special Olympics athletes.

Each package comes with three yellow cupcakes filled with strawberry buttercream and topped with vanilla buttercream and three chocolate cupcakes filled with cookies and cream and topped with vanilla buttercream.

They cost $19.99. Each set comes with two polar bear suckers.

Vanille owner Sophie Evanoff said the cupcakes are the latest in a years-long partnership between her French bakery and the Special Olympics of Chicago.

“We started to get involved with the Special Olympics of Chicago about four years ago on Macaron Day,” Evanoff said. “The Special Olympics was our charity partner, and some of their athletes came in to help us fill macarons and greet customers.”

That started the bakery’s relationship with Special Olympics Chicago, and its athletes would come back every year for the Macaron Day fundraiser.

“We also had one athlete who would come in on weekends to help with packing and cleaning the front,” Evanoff said. “And we’ve also done the Polar Plunge every year as a company.”

Because the plunge is virtual this year, teams are encouraged to think of creative alternatives to jumping in the lake, such as jumping in the snow or running through a sprinkler, according to a news release.

“We’ll probably just hang out in our freezer for a few minutes and take a silly video,” Evanoff said.

This year’s virtual plunge runs through March 7, when a virtual “melt-down” party will be held.

This year, the bakery hopes to raise at least $500 for the Special Olympics charity program.

“We’ve always had success fundraising with specific products, and the cupcakes are fun for us because we get to try new things at the store while still helping others,” Evanoff said.

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Already subscribe? Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.