Pelham’s Polar Plunge surfaces with record setting success

Published 2:12 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2024

By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer 

PELHAM – Representatives from local businesses, law enforcement and public safety departments all braved the frigid elements to raise funds and awareness during the annual Alabama Law Enforcement Torch Run’s Pelham Polar Plunge held on Saturday, Jan. 20.

Hosted by the Pelham Police Department and with Publix serving as the premiere sponsor, the 13th annual Pelham Polar Plunge saw its participants pay to race, and dive, into the freezing waters at Oak Mountain Beach in the name of raising funds for Special Olympics Alabama.

This year’s plunge lived up to the event’s name and proved to be among the coldest iterations of the event on record, featuring air temperatures that only briefly managed to reach the low 30’s at the warmest part of the day. In fact, the air temperature, before even taking wind chill into account, sat well below the water temperature, which was reported to be between 40-42 degrees Fahrenheit prior to the plunge.

Despite those freezing temperatures, the event saw a large turnout, with hundreds from sponsoring organizations, departments and the public all gathered together on the frozen shores of Double Oak Lake for the cause. While there, many also enjoyed food from the participating food trucks and tried to stay warm by clinging tightly to their handwarmers and standing next to the large bonfire—carefully monitored by park rangers.

“It was cold, but nothing warms our hearts more than to see how the community supports the causes we care about,” read a public release from the Pelham Police Department. “Shout out to Homewood Police Department, Bessemer Police Department and City of Calera Police Department for accepting our police challenge and thank you to all of our corporate sponsors.”

Working in unison, just these businesses and public organizations managed to raise $34,450 in funds that were given directly to Special Olympics Alabama. However, after tallying other donations brought in through personal deposits and individual event participants, the total amount raised by the event is believed to have reached an even higher grand total of $37,151.

“We can now say this is a record fundraising year for the Pelham Polar Plunge,” read the release from Pelham PD.

Additionally, another record was set in terms of how many took the plunge at this year’s event.

“(The) turnout was a record,” Pelham Communications Manager Ainsley Allison said. “We had approximately 250 plunge.”

The funds raised by the event will directly aid Special Olympics Alabama in their efforts to provide year-round sports training and also support the provision of competition and leadership opportunities to the more than 15,000 of Alabama’s athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

This year’s list of sponsors included the following businesses and organizations:

Premiere Sponsor

  • Publix

Gold Sponsors

  •  Oak Mountain State Park
  •  Vulcan Steel Products

Silver Sponsors

  •  AmFirst
  •  Kirkland Wrecker Service
  •  Wheeler Wrecker Service

Bronze Sponsors

  •  Alabama Water Utilities
  •  Issis & Sons Flooring and Furniture
  •  EAW (Exclusive Auto Wholesale)
  •  Southeastern Construction Partners, LLC

Guardian Sponsors

  •  The Pelham Police Department
  •  Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Alabama
  •  Bluewatch
  •  The Homewood Police Department

Champion Sponsor

  •  The Bessemer Police Department

Runner Sponsor

  •  The Calera Police Department