Polar plungers brave OMSP waters

PELHAM – As polar plungers emerged from the chilly waters at Oak Mountain State Park’s beach on Saturday, March 4, some were relieved that experience wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be.

Shelby County 911 dispatcher Casey Culp said the water was frigid but once he stepped out of the water he warmed up quickly.

“The water was chilly but it helps that the sun is out and beaming down,” Culp said. “It’s all for a good cause, so you can’t beat it.”

That cause is the Special Olympics of Alabama. Special Olympics of Alabama, which has more than 14,000 athletes, provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, according to their website. Currently they offer 20 different sports in the state of Alabama.

A large part of the funding needed to operate these programs comes from events held by the Alabama law enforcement community. The Polar Plunge kicks off fundraising efforts for the law enforcement community.

Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Debbie Sumrall said 70 plungers participated in the event and more than $13,000 was raised.

A huge bon fire on the beach also helped participants warm up after taking the plunge. But before participants took to the water, a costume contest was held on the beach.

Costumes included a group of pirates, Sesame Street characters, leprechauns, a sumo wrestler, the crew from MASH and Pelham Police Chief Larry Palmer dressed as Dr. Seuss. And although Pelham Mayor Gary Waters did not participate in the costume contest, he did make the plunge dressed in Superman pajamas.

The sumo wrestler won first place in the costume contest. Second place went to Shelby 911’s crew dressed as characters from M*A*S*H and Palmer’s Dr. Seuss won third place.

Free t-shirts, beverages and snacks were offered to participants, and Master Tacos food truck was also on hand to offer heartier food options.