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This is the time of year that people start to yearn for the heat and sunshine of summer. Some people even get the urge to jump into an ice-cold body of water—but that has nothing to do with dreaming of summer and everything to do with wanting to raise funds and awareness for a good cause: Special Olympics Arkansas (SOAR), an organization that supports over 15,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities. SOAR helps these individuals train and compete in Special Olympic events across the state, and in the process the athletes build their physical and emotional strength. SOAR is completely free to its athletes and their families, thanks in part to the efforts of the group Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), which devotes itself to raising money and awareness for the Special Olympics.
The dive into frigid waters, referred to as the Polar Plunge, is one way LETR achieves its goal. Participants ages 12 and older register, create or join a team, make a profile and solicit donations—attempting to raise a minimum of $50 per person. Each year the Polar Plunge raises around $240,000 for SOAR. Groups of police officers, firefighters, motorcycle clubs, sports teams and teachers are joined by local business representatives and those looking to challenge themselves with the shock of an icy dip. Prizes are awarded for best costumes and most money raised. Additional activities around the Polar Plunge include a 5K in Russellville (Pine Bluff had one, too), a parade in Benton and a dessert auction in Greenbrier. People who want to support the efforts of the Polar Plunge without getting cold and wet can donate $25 for an “I Chickened Out” t-shirt.
The Wynne/Forrest City Polar Plunge in late January had to be rescheduled due to inclement weather, while several of the Polar Plunges early this month have experienced warm temperatures that helped inspire participants to plunge. Despite warm temperatures, the water remained cold and unpleasant. Pine Bluff’s Polar Plunge provided heated tents for participants to dry and change clothes. Pools, rivers and lakes will claim hundreds of good-intentioned people in the 24 different plunge events across the state. Register today to experience the exhilaration of “freezin’ for a reason” at a Polar Plunge near you:
February 13: Beaver Lake, Blytheville, Greenbrier, Malvern, Texarkana
February 18: ASU Jonesboro
February 20: West Fork, Cabot, Paris, Russellville, Searcy, Jonesboro
February 24: Batesville High School.
February 26: Magnolia
February 27: Mena, Mountain Home, Batesville, Monticello
March 12: Clarksville
Photo Credit Special Olympics Arkansas Staff
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