residents to take Polar Plunge
to raise money for Special Olympics
event has quickly become popular
VERSAILLES, Ind. (February 2013) Like many
high school freshmen, Jacob Eldridge loves his sports. He participates
in basketball, softball, cross country and track and field. As a Special
Olympics athlete, Eldridge looks forward to the team spirit, staying
healthy, and learning new skills as he participates in a wide variety
of programs. What I like most, though, is the fun you can have,
Eldridge has participated in Special Olympics for four years. Those
years have allowed him to learn a variety of new skills including how
to be part of a team. Ive learned its not about winning.
Its about making friends and having fun, he says. Special
Olympics offers this experience to all students with disabilities and
all for free.
race into the
chilly water at Versailles State Park
during last year's Polar Plunge.
To pay for the programs, Special Olympics seeks funding
from a variety of sources, including a local favorite event, the Polar
The sixth annual Polar Plunge takes place Saturday, Feb. 16, at Versailles
State Park in Versailles, Ind. Proceeds will benefit Special Olympics
of Ripley, Ohio and Dearborn counties. Participants raise a minimum
of $75 in pledges, gather to register between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.,
then plunge into the Versailles State Park lake at 2 p.m. Immediately
after, participants gather at a huge heated tent for the After Splash
For those desiring a less frigid option, the event also features a Polar
Climb, participants raise a minimum of $35 and register at 10 a.m. for
either a 3K walk or 5K run beginning at 11 a.m. They are also invited
to watch the Plunge and stay for the Bash.
Despite frigid temperatures, Greg Townsend, Volunteer Delegation Coordinator
for Ripley, Ohio and Dearborn County Special Olympics, said he expects
a great turn-out. Last year, we had 187 participants and raised
nearly $50,000, says Townsend. This year we would like to
have 200 people take the plunge. Townsend has volunteered with
Special Olympics for more than 20 years and has worked as the coordinator
for this event for the last eight.
Special Olympics needed someone to coordinate the volunteers and
focus on fund raising for the three counties, so I began doing that,
says Townsend. The athletes who participate in Special Olympics
do so free of charge. This event helps raise funds to pay for uniforms,
fees, equipment, transportation and other expenses related to offering
Townsend notes that Indiana will play host to 11 Polar Plunges during
February throughout the state. This is one of our major fund raisers.
People love to participate to support Special Olympics.
Townsend urges participants to also stay for the After Splash Bash.
We have a huge heated tent with vendors, entertainers, and food
court. We also offer a variety of prizes. Its a great time.
Caz Burdette said he looks forward to another dip in the lake. Burdette
and his wife, Denise, coach volleyball for Special Olympics. Burdette
has participated in the Plunge every year since it began in 2008. When
asked what it is like, Burdette responds that every year is different.
Some years there has been ice on the lake. The Department of Natural
Resources had to send people to cut holes in the ice so we could jump
in. Another year it was raining so hard, the spectators got as cold
and wet as the people who plunged.
Apparently, last year tops them all. Though we had a mild winter,
the Plunge was on the coldest day of the year. It was COLD. I got out
of there in just a few seconds, says Burdette.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has personnel in the lake
to ensure participants safety. I usually stay in the water
long enough to high-five each of them. Last year, I just got out,
says Burdette, laughing.
Burdette copes with the cold by asking his wife to stand by with a towel
for him to wrap in as soon as he comes out of the lake, then he heads
straight for the heated tent.
Those interested in participating can go solo or form a team. Sponsors
especially encourage schools and safety officers to form teams to compete
against each other for fundraising and special prizes. All participants
become eligible for special prizes ranging from long-sleeved T-shirts
bearing the Polar Plunge logo to coolers, towels, shoulder bags, and
pull-overs. Prizes are also awarded for best costume.
To participate, register online at www.soindiana.org for the Versailles
Plunge. Participants who so desire can create a page for online pledges
as part of their registration. Then participants collect pledges and
bring them the day of the event along with a copy of online pledges,
For more information, contact Greg Townsend
at (812) 584-6861 or email: email@example.com.
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