Taking the plunge: PPD’s ninth Polar Plunge a success

Published 9:15 am Tuesday, January 29, 2019

PELHAM – The ninth annual Polar Plunge drew hundreds of people to Oak Mountain State Park to help raise money for the Special Olympics of Alabama.

In addition to plunging into the icy lake at OMSP, attendees participated in a silent auction and a costume contest. The crew from Shelby County 911, who were dressed as the Flintstones, took first place in the costume contest.

Pelham Police Department spokeswoman Ainsley Allison said about 250 people pre-registered for what might have been the biggest turnout in the event’s history. Allison said 166 of those were Publix employees, the event’s main sponsor.

Every year the Polar Plunge kicks off fundraising efforts for the law enforcement community with the proceeds going to the Special Olympics, which provides year-round sports training and athletic competitions for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Prior to the plunge, PPD Chief Larry Palmer took a moment to recognize two Alabama police officers who were recently killed in the line of duty.

“We postponed this event by a week after Sgt. Carter was killed and a week later we lost Officer Tudor with the Mobile Police Department,” Palmer said. “This is happening all too often.”

After pausing for a moment of silence for the two officers who made the ultimate sacrifice, Palmer told the men and women in law enforcement at the event to take care of themselves and their fellow officers.

The Pelham Police Department takes the lead with organizing the event and law enforcement agencies from throughout the area, including the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Irondale Police Department, Hoover Police Department, Shelby County 911, Birmingham Police Department, Mountain Brook Police Department, make donations or participate in the plunge.

Second-time plunger Don Graber said it was hard to find the words to describe what it’s like to dive in near freezing water.

“It was cold. I was refreshing,” he said. “It’s for a good cause and it’s just something fun to do.”

First-timer Kenny Simpson said he took a cold to try to get an idea of what it might be like.

Once he hit the water, he said his main goal was to get out and change into dry clothes as fast as he could. Another first-timer Justin Sheehan said the experience was phenomenal.

“It was great,” he said. “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Several safety precautions were taken to ensure the safety of those taking the plunge. A diver and with the Pelham Fire Department and one of their rescue boats were stationed in the water just in case someone needed help. Medics were also there to assist if needed.

To see more photos, go to ShelbyCountyPhotos.com.