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Polar Plunge successful in supporting Special Olympics Ohio


The employees of Athens Real Estate clad in penguin costumes led by their ring master, students disguised as circus clowns, and men and women wearing bikinis and swim trunks ran into the freezing cold waters of Lake Snowden in Albany, Ohio, on Saturday. 

They were joined together to participate in the sixth annual Polar Plunge, a joint initiative between the Ohio University Police Department and Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity. 

The event is part of a statewide initiative to raise money for the non-profit organization, Special Olympics Ohio (SOOH). The organization is dedicated to providing yearlong training and competition to more than 23,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

"It's a really good cause," said junior computer engineering major Gerrod Schirtzinger, who was the team captain for his group of plungers. 

"Everyone should get a chance to participate in athletics, even if they have special needs; and I love jumping in freezing cold water, it's actually really enjoyable for me."

After registration and the elaborate circus-themed costume contest, the mass of participants hovered over the edge of the lake and took turns running in and out of the water in large groups.

Sophomore international studies major, Robert Burke, said "it was cold, I felt numb, but it was nice," after running in and out of the water. 

"What's a couple of seconds being cold when all of the money is going to Special Olympics," said Burke.

He was among 219 other participants who temporarily sacrificed their body warmth to support Special Olympics Ohio. The plungers developed a team of sponsors in order to raise money. Saturday's event raised more than $27,000 for Special Olympics Ohio

"It was great," said Cathy Hart, a communication officer for OUPD. "People were really into it this year and the enthusiasm was outstanding. It was really a good day all the way around." 

Polar Plunge

Ohio University students wade through cold water during the sixth-annual Polar Bear Plunge held at Lake Snowden in Albany, Ohio. The charity event raiseed money and awareness for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Photo by Samantha Owens.  

Polar Plunge

Ohio University students wade through cold water during the sixth-annual Polar Bear Plunge held at Lake Snowden in Albany, Ohio. Photo by Samantha Owens.  

Polar Plunge

The Polar Bear Plunge raised more than $27,000 this year. Photo by Samantha Owens.  

Polar Plunge

More than 200 people participated in the 2013 Polar Plunge on Feb. 9, including these members of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority. Photo by Samantha Owens. 

Polar Plunge

Former Ohio University police officer Steve Noftz poses for a portrait in his costume before the Ohio University Polar Plunge. Noftz was an entrant in the costume contest. Photo by Ross Brinkerhoff.

Polar Plunge

Loralen Morgan of Athens, Ohio, dons a bearded lady costume to match the circus theme that the Power 105 "Sub Zero Heroes" fundraising group decided to commit to during their dives. Photo by Samantha Owens.

Polar Plunge

Alex Timms poses for a portrait in his costume before the Ohio University Polar Plunge. Photo by Ross Brinkerhoff. 

Polar Plunge

Megan Fitzgerald poses for a portrait in her costume before the Ohio University Polar Plunge. She was an entrant in the Polar Plunge costume contest. Photo by Ross Brinkerhoff.