Special Olympics Allen County is Positively Fort Wayne

Alise Hazelett competes in the Special Olympics.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Alise Hazelett is one of many Special Olympic athletes in Fort Wayne.

“I like to golf and I like to do basketball,” said Hazelett. “I like to volleyball and I like to do all kinds of different stuff.”

For 16 years Hazelett has participated in Special Olympics Allen County. She’s also a member of Team Indiana and will compete this summer in Seattle, Washington at the National Special Olympic Games.

“It’s fun,” said the 27-year old.

“Our organization helps athletes with intellectual disabilities have the opportunity to play and compete in sports,” said Julie Burkholder, the Northeast Indiana Regional Manager of Special Olympics Indiana.

Burkholder has a son who is a Special Olympic athlete. She said the program offers those with disabilities the opportunity to be among peers of equal capabilities and donations help their special needs.

“Our athletes never pay to participate,” said Burkholder. “We have a wide variety of sports that they can participate in and we never charge them. It’s about $10,000 a year for them to participate. Their involvement is paid for through fundraisers and donations.”

One of those fundraisers really gets people to take a plunge.

“We have our annual Polar Plunge on February 10th at Metea Park,” said Burkholder. “It is exactly what is sounds like. It’s an icy plunge in February. It’s Indiana. It can be 50 on plunge day it can be 4 on plunge day. We don’t really know but you’re going to plunge in that icy water and support the 14,000 athletes who we have in the state of Indiana.”

Individuals and companies from all over Northeast Indiana raise funds through pledges and donations for the chance to take a plunge into freezing cold water to prove they are “Freezin’ for a Reason.”

“Last year locally we raised about $12,000. We’d like to raise much more than that this year.”

Money raised during the event will help pay for Hazelett and 83 other special athletes to compete in the 2018 National Special Olympic Games in Seattle, Washington. Hazelett has competed for years and won medals and ribbons.

She also met former first lady Michelle Obama.

Registration for the Special Olympics Allen County Polar Plunge is underway. You can sign up and get more information polarplungeIN.org. Participants are asked to raise a minimum of $75 in pledges and show up at Metea County Park on Union Chapel Road between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Saturday, February 10th. Following the Plunge, those in attendance are invited to join the free After Splash Bash in the Metea Park Nature Center.