Whether you’re up for a quick dip in freezing cold water, or virtual plunging is more your speed, Special Olympics Indiana wants you to be “Freezin’ for A Reason” at its 13th annual Polar Plunge fundraiser.

Slated for Saturday, Feb. 13 at Metea Park, the event is the largest fundraiser of the year for Special Olympics Indiana and Special Olympics Allen County. The 2020 event raised over $54,000 locally for the organization, and over $1 million statewide.

Jake Pickett, Sweetwater Sound marketing manager, is the volunteer chairperson for the Allen County event. “This year’s event looks a lot different. We’re putting precautions into place that follow county and state Board of Health guidelines for gatherings and social distancing,” he said.

The plunge will be broken into different time slots, rather than a mass plunge, allowing groups to choose their own plunge times. There will not be an opening ceremony, and the number of people that will be allowed in the event check-in space will be limited.

“We’re hoping for at least 200 participants this year,” Pickett said. “We’re excited about some new alternatives to the plunge that people can participate in from home.”

Those new alternatives include two ways to virtually participate in Special Olympics’ signature fundraising effort. The first option is the Polar Plunge Run, with participants soliciting pledges and donations to run a 5K or 10K anywhere or any time during the Polar Plunge season, on behalf of Special Olympics.

Also new to the Polar Plunge event in 2021 is the “Be an Angel for Special Olympics and Earn Your Wings” option. People who pay a $25 registration fee are invited to dress up or make a snow angel, take a photo or video of their angel, and share the photo on social media using the hashtag #EarnedMyWings.

Returning to take the plunge in 2021 is the Carroll High School Unified Champions group. Headed by Northwest Allen County Schools’ Adapted Physical Education teacher and coach Alan Bodenstein, 33 team members will jump into the icy water.

The Unified Champions program is a joint effort of the IHSAA and Special Olympics to promote social inclusion for the developmentally disabled, with sports as the foundation. Through activities, young people are equipped with tools and training to create a climate of acceptance in sports, classroom and school activities.

“Our Unified Champions group is also about creating social opportunities for our athletes, and about teaching them how to support charitable causes. These kids get to help our community, and they are learning how to serve others,” Bodenstein said.

Other school groups participating include North Side High School, Norwell High School and East Allen University.

Assisting Special Olympics through corporate sponsorship are Sweetwater Sound, Strahm Group and Star Bank. Media sponsors for the event are WANE-TV and Adams Radio Group.

“We do this event so every Special Olympics athlete can compete at no cost,” Pickett said. “From entry fees, uniforms, equipment, training, travel expenses, we want to make sure their costs are covered 100%.”

More than 18,000 athletes currently participate in at least one sport through Special Olympics Indiana.

For more information on sponsorship or participating in any of the Polar Plunge activities, visit www.soindiana.org/polar-plunge.

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