80 Polar plungers freeze for Special Olympics

Polar Plungers jump into a pond at Metea County Park for Special Olympics.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Polar plungers, friends and family braved the cold to raise money for Special Olympics of Indiana Saturday.

“Our athletes need a purpose and this a purpose for them to have fun and enjoy,” Steuben County Assistant Coordinator Penny Burlew said.

80 plungers joined together at Metea County park to celebrate more than $13,000 in donations. Saturday’s event was one of 16 plunges across the state.

“It’s very impactful for our athletes,” Special Olympics Regional Manager Julie Burkholder explained.”Our athletes don’t pay to participate in anything. So not only does it show support for them, it helps them raise the key funds to help them participate in sports.”

The event, emceed by NewsChannel 15’s Rob Lydick, started with a costume contest. Before too long though, it was time to jump in.

“I’m super excited,” Advocate Nicole Schieber said enthusiastically. “Because I can’t wait to get in the water!”

A handful of polar plungers jumped in at a time, making their way to firefighters, before turning around and heading back. A group from North Side High School took the dip to support Champions Together events at the school.

“Our kids come out and cheer everyone on and it’s such great sportsmanship and it’s a way to get everyone feeling they’re a part of the school,” Kirk Doehrmann said.

The Legends wore wrestling singlets, showing support for wrestler Dakota Ault, who lost his father ahead of Saturday’s semi state tournament.

“Oh!” Jordyn Rigler exclaimed about the cold water. “I think that’s the best description. I was not expecting the shock.”

“But it was amazing,” Burlew said after the dip. “It was fun. Seeing the kids and athletes out there smiling, it makes freezin’ for a reason worth it.”

There’s still time to donate online. You can do that here.