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Local Students Take Polar Plunge to Help Special Olympics

Ilina Ghosh

Saturday, March 1, 2014 • 3:02pm

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ - Denizens from all over New Jersey and the Tri-State Area came together last Saturday to strip down to their swimsuits and jump into below freezing temperate waters by choice! These crazy people (including myself) did this all to bring awareness to and celebrate an amazing cause. The polar bear plunge at Seaside Heights is a unique fundraiser that has a rapidly growing following. This year they raised over 1 million dollars to support Special Olympics New Jersey. 

Special Olympics New Jersey provides year-round sports training for people who don’t usually receive it. They also hold athletic competition in many Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The community they have built is a strong one and the people involved get a lot out of it. The polar plunge is the perfect fun loving fundraiser for such a cause because it really brings together those two principles of spirit and dedication. 

This not-for-profit organization operates on an annual budget primarily funded through individual, corporate, civic and foundation dollars. All programs are free to registered athletes including insurance, facilities, equipment, uniforms, housing & meals for events, awards, sports, education and more. They offer these programs on the local, county, sectional and state levels. Special Olympics New Jersey offers athletes free participation in all activities at the Special Olympics New Jersey Sports Complex in Lawrenceville as well.

The Polar Bear Plunge at Seaside Heights, New Jersey has grown to become the largest single day fundraising effort for Special Olympics New Jersey. Anyone participating must raise a minimum of $100 to take a courageous mid-winter dip into the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Minors (under 18) are required to have parent/guardian signature of consent to participate. Many Plungers raise more than the minimum and earn Plunge gifts at various fundraising levels like sweatshirts. All proceeds collected by Plungers benefit Special Olympics athletes and help to foster the Special Olympics New Jersey mission.

People of all ages, cultures and communities participate. There are 6-year-olds and 60-year-olds, teachers and mayors, all together having a good time, it is like a mini summer day in the middle of winter. And for people who have a few hesitations, cheering on the plungers is just as fun (and way warmer) than plunging yourself!

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