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Polar Plunge continues virtually to benefit Special Olympics

-Messenger file photo Marvel and DC superheroes, portrayed by the Dodger Senate Polar Plunge team, run from the freezing water at the Polar Plunge to raise money for Special Olympics on a Sunday in 2017 in Badger Lake at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.

This year, Polar Plunge participants will be chilled in frigid waters at home instead of the usual bodies of water as Special Olympics Iowa continues to raise funds needed more than ever for special athletes and unified partners.

The statewide, at-home event, BRRRtual Polar Plunge, will provide a unique twist to the signature fundraiser that the Fort Dodge Police Department has participated in for 12 years.

A few ideas are being thrown around on how to accomplish a plunge this year, like an ice bath, getting sprayed down with a hose, water balloons or a slip and slide.

“We just encourage people to be creative and safe,” said Jeremey Moore, administrative technician for the Fort Dodge Police Department. “2020 has been a bummer, and this is an opportunity to have a bit of fun while supporting a great cause.”

For $75, plungers can support the cause solo or as a team by tossing their boss or sponsoring an individual. Those not wanting to dive in can still register to raise funds, for which they’ll receive a t-shirt, travel mug and potential prizes. The more money raised by a plunger or “chicken”, someone afraid to plunge, the more prizes they can get, like apparel and gift cards.

Photos and videos of participation will be shared to the BRRRtual Polar Plunge event on Facebook.

Prizes will also be given away for the best snowman, best igloo, best snow angel, best costume, most creative plunge and top fundraiser. All proceeds benefit Special Olympics Iowa’s programs for 16,500 intellectually disabled athletes, many of whom have faced unique challenges during the pandemic.

“While the fundraiser is an at-home event this year, we still anticipate a high level of energy and excitement to surround the festivities,” said Megan Filipi, director of Law Enforcement Torch Run, an umbrella program that coordinates fundraising opportunities for athletes from Iowa law enforcement agencies.

Fundraising in a year of nearly all virtual events has been difficult for non-profits, Filipi said.

“Everybody’s been affected, but engaging in virtual events has been quite difficult,” she said, given the different dynamics without gathering in person. “We’re still trying to keep some elements. It’s more important than ever that our athletes, who are feeling isolated, are staying engaged and living healthy lifestyles.”

This year, many Special Olympics events have been converted or scaled for virtual participation with athletes, many of whom have underlying conditions that put them at higher risk for COVID-19 complications if exposed to the novel coronavirus. Bowling is being done with a ball and makeshift pins found around the house, and team sports like soccer are being scaled to soccer skills for simpler individual participation.

“So many (athletes) are appreciative we’re still offering programs to continue engaging them in sports and activities so they’re not just staying at home and bored,” Filipi said. “Maybe they don’t necessarily have the resources to go out and participate in a public space, but this way they’re still fighting inactivity and unhealthy habits by being able to engage in sports.”

Twelve days of virtual athletic competitions are coming up, starting Dec. 7.

“FDPD has been a proud supporter of Special Olympics for many years through events like the Torch Run, Cop on a Rooftop and the Polar Plunge, as well as the various sporting events held in the area each year. We are very grateful to the citizens of Fort Dodge who have always been so generous and contributed to our fundraising efforts,” Moore said. “We are also very thankful to have great partners in these efforts, including the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility and the Webster County Sheriff’s Office. This year may be an off year for fundraising and participation, but we are excited at the prospect of getting back into the swing of things as soon as things start to get back to normal.”

How to participate:

• Participants have until Dec. 5 to participate in their at-home Polar Plunges.

• To find more information or register, go to classy.org/campaign/brrtual-polar-plunge/c305014

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