By Rachel Petersen
Twenty-nine people joined in Saturday’s fundraising activities at the JI Stipe Center in McAlester and took the ice-cold polar plunge into a pool full of 42 degree water.
The Polar Plunge is a fundraising event to benefit Special Olympics of Oklahoma. “There is a polar plunge every Saturday at different locations in Oklahoma beginning this weekend and running through March 2,” said Donna Ham, marketing and public relations director for Special Olympics of Oklahoma. “Last year we raised $250,000 statewide during the polar plunge fundraising events.”
The polar plunge event has been running for 12 years statewide and this is the fourth consecutive year for the event to come to McAlester, Ham said. “Our statewide goal is to raise $300,000 this year.”
Ham said the Polar Plunge fundraising events are hosted by Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR). “The Special Olympics is the beneficiary of all LETR fundraising and public awareness events,” Ham said. “We have 9500 Special Olympic athletes in Oklahoma. The money raised here today will stay in Oklahoma to support those athletes. Special Olympics is a year-round program that takes a lot of funding to support all those athletes.”
Randy Weaver, area director for Special Olympics of Oklahoma - Kiamichi area 10, said 15 local representatives from LETR took the plunge Saturday. “We raised $5,000 today,” Weaver said.
Just before people took the plunge, some special plungers were awarded plaques. The Kiowa Police Department was awarded a Top Fundraising Organization plaque. Eugene Wann, 41, of Fort Smith, was awarded a Top Individual Fundraiser plaque. Tru Fruen, 4, of Cameron, was awarded a Youngest Plunger plaque and the Best Costume plaque. Fruen was dressed like a penguin.
Rick Haywood, 49, of McAlester, was awarded the Oldest Plunger plaque. However, at the last minute, 62-year-old McAlester resident Larry Owens stepped up and took the polar plunge.
Some people plunged alone and some plunged in groups. Five members of the Kiowa Police Department took the plunge at the same time in their uniforms. And an even larger group, the Plunging Pirates of Poteau, a group of special olympic athletes and their friends, took the plunge too.
For more information on this event and others, visit www.sook.org or call 800-722-9004.
Contact Rachel Petersen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on this story, see the print or electronic editions of the McAlester News-Capital. Click here for print edition home delivery or click here to see the Smart Edition for your computer, tablet, e-reader or smart phone.