Taking the plunge

Published 10:01 am Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Area 15 Special Olympics in Charlotte County braved the cold this past weekend to raise money for Special Olympics Virginia at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.

According to Area 15 Representative Joanne Catron, Charlotte County raised more than $10,000 with the event and will get 65 percent of the money back.

“A significant percentage of all of our fundraising comes back to our local area,” said Catron. “A small percentage does stay at the state level, and that’s important because we are able to access the state-level scholarships and because we participate in at least three state-level events every year.”

She said their team has been plunging for more than 13 years and has participated in locations such as Virginia Beach, Richmond, Charlottesville and New River.

According to Catron, Special Olympics symbolizes the celebration of athletes, their abilities and accomplishments.

Additionally, she said it’s also about the fundraising efforts which help provide programs for area athletes.

First-time plunger T’Keyah Morton said she wished she would have started participating in the event years ago.

“I remember in high school hearing some of my teachers talk about the Polar Plunge, and I always told myself that one day I will be there,” said Morton. “It felt wonderful to be part of an event that benefits so many of our Special Olympics athletes across Virginia. Seeing all those smiling faces was priceless, and I cannot wait until next year to do it all again.”

The official Polar Plunge website notes the cost to plunge is $100, and the two-day festival included a costume contest, boardwalk parade, live music and a plunge marketplace to entertain participants before taking a cold dip in the Atlantic Ocean for the main event.

According to the website, the funds will “provide year-round sports training, competition, leadership opportunities and health services to more than 21,000 athletes of all abilities.”

A press release from Special Olympics Virginia said nearly $1.2 million was raised from this year’s event with about 3,734 participants.

“No longer is it enough to provide a place for people of all abilities to come together through sport. It is time to demand uncompromising inclusion — in school, employment, health care and social activities like the Polar Plunge Fest,” said Special Olympics Virginia President Rick Jeffrey in a press release. “For our inclusion revolution to succeed, we need more rebels, heroes and fighters just like the participants who helped us raise more than a million dollars this weekend.”

Charlotte County will participate in the New River Plunge Feb. 24 located in Radford.