Would you jump into freezing cold water without some monetary incentive for yourself? Well that’s exactly what thousands of people do every year in order to raise money for the Special Olympics in an event called the Polar Plunge. ASU held its own Polar Plunge last Friday night sans cold water at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex on Apache Rd.
“The funds raised through this event goes directly back to support Special Olympics Arizona athletes in year-round training, sports and competition,” Jennifer Smith, a representative for the Special Olympics said. Over $2,000 was raised this year through people donating money to sponsor the over fifty “plungers” who participated in the event.
The night not only included jumping into the pool, but also a barbeque and a DJ. Even Sparky and the Polar Plunge polar bear joined in the fun and judged the diving competition.
“Special Olympics Arizona’s partnership with ASU is been something that we truly enjoy and specifically love working with the Student Recreation Complex every year and their staff on this to make it a great event,” Josh Montgomery, another Special Olympics representative said.
Wal-Mart sponsored the barbeque and donated all the food for the event. “We’ve been involved with Special Olympics for the past 13 years. Since Wal-Mart has been out here in Buckeye, Arizona the drivers, the maintenance associates and the office we come out and sponsor events like this,” said Bill Hudnall a transportation manager for Wal-Mart who oversaw the food. “It’s good for us but it’s also good for the athletes and that’s what we’re here for.”
A high school class, employees of H&R Block, employees of the Sun Devil Fitness Complex and a mash of other ASU students made up the different teams. Katie Barr, an education junior, and Matthew Estrada, a biological sciences senior, made up the team jumping in for RHA. Barr is interning at a special education preschool in Mesa where her teacher is involved in the Special Olympics. “ I just think it’s a really great cause. The water is not that cold but when you get out it’s a little bit chilly,” Barr said.
“We wanted to make sure our organization was out here representing and raising some funds,” Estrada added.
At the end of the night a multitude of different prizes were given out. “I didn’t even know about it until my coworkers told me, ‘you should do the Polar Plunge,’ and I’m like, ‘yeah what’s it for?’ They said it’s for a good cause I said why not,” said sociology senior Blaal Ahmadi.
Ahmadi also won the award for best costume in a cape and wrestling mask. “I just had a bunch of random stuff laying in my closet, I knew I had a lucha libre mask. I said, ‘I gotta wear that.’”
Allison Dee, a teacher at Mingus Mountain Academy, brought a group of girls from the school in Prescott all the way to ASU in order to participate. Dee also won the award for the most money raised by a single individual, while her group brought home the prize for biggest splash.
Dee coached in the Special Olympics for nine years and was participating in the Polar Plunge for the third time.
“Special Olympics is great because everyone is there to have a good time. They’re not there to be judged, they’re not there to be ridiculed. They’re there to kind of escape life in a way and I think it’s a fantastic time not only for those participating but for those coaching as well,” Dee said.
If you have any suggestions as to what you would like to see me write about or cover this semester, have a comment about a recent post or simply want to talk sports, contact me at email@example.com or via Twitter @npkrueger