By Devan Strebing email@example.com
---- — The 15th annual Special Olympics of Indiana Polar Plunge brought people together who were “freezin’ for a reason.”
The event was at Eagle Creek Park Beach, with the early bird plungers making their way into the frigid waters at 8:30 a.m.
“The early bird plungers are those who registered early,” explained Duchess Adjei, manager of marketing and public relations. “A lot of people want to be the first ones to plunge. It’s exciting to see everyone take the plunge.”
The event is open to anyone age 12 or older. The minimum amount to plunge is $75, and if you’re a student with an ID, you pay $50.
Super plungers are those who raised $4,000 or more. This year there were six super plungers. They alone raised more than $30,000 for Special Olympics Indiana.
“They’re crucial, along with everyone who helps out,” Adjei said. “There are also those people who just help donate, they don’t go into the water. People participate in this because they understand the bigger picture of Special Olympics; our athletes are the heartbeat of our organization. The plunge is symbolic of the whole experience, they support Special Olympics and understand the mission behind it, and they understand the athletes with disabilities should be like regular athletes; be on the same scale as well.”
Special Olympics Indiana serves more than 11,000 athletes. Many of them came to the Polar Plunge to either brave the water themselves or to volunteer.
Hugh Breen came out to meet people and greet the plungers.
“I wanted to help out Special Olympics,” he said. “I’ve been to a lot of events with Special Olympics. My favorite part is meeting people and helping out.”
John Terrell, a volunteer with IPL, was preparing for his first plunge.
“I’m here because I do some volunteering with IPL, and Special Olympics is amazing,” he said. “This is a bucket list for me. It’s kind of a trifecta for me — I get to do something that I wanted to do, get to help Special Olympics, and get to support IPL’s community efforts. I made the mistake in watching it first (early bird plunge) which is probably not the best thing to do, but I want to get to the other side of it so I can say I did it.”
Special Olympics Indiana had close to 700 people sign up for the event since December. Many high school teams and sororities took part in the event, along with people dressing up in costumes.
“The Evolution of Forrest Gump,” a group of people dressed up in the stages of Forrest, won the costume contest.
After the second plunge at 10:30 a.m., the plungers were able to go to the Pike Freshman Center to get some hot meals and relax.
“This winter has been tough, so it’s just crazy that people come out and support this,” Adjei said. “There’s really a camaraderie here; it’s a good time.”
For more information about Special Olympics Indiana, visit the website at www.soindiana.org or call 328-2000.