Olympians take their annual plunge

Published 11:15 am Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Members of the Charlotte County Special Olympics took their 12th annual plunge into ice-cold water this month.

The group, dressed as characters from Toy Story, participated in the 25th Annual Polar Plunge in Virginia Beach.

The group raised $10,404 during the Feb. 4 event. “Thanks to the wonderful support of donors, the Charlotte County Special Olympics had their most successful Polar Plunge yet,” officials said in a press release.

Over 80 businesses and individuals donated this year to the Charlotte County Polar Plunge team.

According to Leslie Poling, a member of the group, the air temperature was in the 30s and the water temperature was in the 40s during the day the 28 plunged into the ocean to raise money and awareness for the Special Olympics of Virginia program.

“Polar Plunge is the largest fundraiser for Special Olympics,” said Poling. “Special Olympics provides wonderful opportunities for the athletes and for the people who get to help.”

She said the program gives those who are not able to compete in traditional sporting events an athletic venue.

Typically, Charlotte County Special Olympics hosts a soccer and basketball tournament each year, she said.

“Additionally, they travel with athletes to attend regional and state events for soccer, swimming, basketball and track and field.”

The money raised through Polar Plunge makes the activities possible.

“It funds those events and travel, meals, accommodations and registration fees for the regional and state events,” said Poling. “It allows Charlotte County Special Olympics to provide necessary equipment for the athletes like soccer cleats, soccer balls, basketballs, uniforms, swimsuits (and) duffle bags.”

It also pays for wheelchair modifications for events, referees, rental of a storage unit for supplies, awards for athletes, decorations for parades, she said.