Polar Plunge pays for Special Olympics

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Dozens of winter weather enthusiasts will take a plunge into the frigid waters of Oak Mountain State Park Saturday, Jan. 29 to benefit the Special Olympics.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Torch Run will hold its first Polar Plunge for those brave enough to enter the water in what could be sub-freezing temperatures at the state park’s beach area off Terrace Drive.

Registration for the event will be from 8-8:45 a.m. the day of the event, the safety briefing will be at 9:30 a.m. and the plunge will kick off at 10 a.m. The morning will also feature a costume contest on the beach at 9 a.m., followed by awards at 9:30 a.m.

The law enforcement organization, which also hosts local events such as Cops on Top and the Torch Run, decided to organize the plunge after similar events were successful in other states, said Pelham Police officer Debbie Warner.

“So many other organizations have had tremendous success with polar plunges,” Warner said. “And it’s not a climate-specific event, because they have held them in Georgia and Florida with great success.”

The entry fee for the event is $50 per participant, and all money raised during the plunge will benefit Alabama Special Olympics athletes.

“Since this is a fundraiser for Special Olympics Alabama, we encourage our participants to raise money in excess of the $50 entry fee from family, friends and co-workers,” read an event press release.

Those who raise $50 will receive a 2011 Polar Plunge T-shirt, those who raise $150 will receive the T-shirt and a drawstring bag and participants who raise $250 will also receive a Polar Plunge beach towel.

By raising $500, participants will also receive a hoodie, and $1,000 donors will also receive a North Face fleece jacket.

The event organizers will impose a three-minute swimming limit for all those who enter the water, and the Calera Police Department dive team and Pelham Fire Department will be on hand to ensure safety, Warner said.

“Even if it is warm outside that morning, the water in that lake is cold year-round,” Warner said.

As of Jan. 20, event participants had raised $1,827, and the top fundraiser was Kristi Robertson with $866.16.

To register for or donate to the event, visit Alabamaletr.com and click on the “2011 Polar Plunge” link on the left side of the site.