By Megan Greve and George Mauzy
Athens-area couples will have a unique date option on Valentine’s Day.
The Ohio University Polar Plunge, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 14, will give couples the opportunity to take a dip in the icy waters of Dow Lake in Strouds Run State Park to benefit Special Olympics Ohio. The event is co-sponsored by Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity and the Ohio University Police Department.
Registration begins at 11:30 a.m., the costume contest begins at 1:15 p.m., followed by the plunge at 1:30 p.m. Participants must donate at least $50. Last year’s inaugural Athens event raised more than $8,000.
The Polar Plunge is a national fundraising effort on behalf of Special Olympics, a non-profit organization that provides yearlong training and competition to people with intellectual disabilities.
Cathy Hart, a communication officer for the Ohio University Police Department, said Polar Plunges are ideal for a college campus due to their out-of-the-ordinary nature. She said the nationwide event raises more than half of the organization’s yearly contributions.
Jeff Madachy, Polar Plunge coordinator for Phi Kappa Theta and creator of the Athens event, said the Polar Plunge is special to him.
“My father was a police officer and I have a 30-year-old cousin with an intellectual disability as well as a 4-year-old cousin with autism, so this event hits close to home,” Madachy said.
OUPD Lt. Steve Noftz said the community has always supported his department’s Special Olympics Ohio fundraisers.
“Since we started participating in the Special Olympics Ohio Torch Run in 1995 and the Polar Plunge last year, we have gotten outstanding support from both the campus and community,” Noftz said. “Local businesses and campus departments have consistently donated money, supplies and equipment.”
For example, Mary Dailey, administrative coordinator in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Christina McGuire, administrative associate in University Communications and Marketing, hold an annual raffle to support the OUPD’s Special Olympics Ohio fundraising efforts.
This year, the women are raffling off a movie night basket complete with a Longaberger Tip and Mix Bowl, two DVD movies, popcorn, candy and soda. The $1 tickets can be purchased by calling or e-mailing either woman at work. Dailey can be reached at 740-593-2183 or firstname.lastname@example.org. McGuire can be reached at 740-593-9454 or email@example.com.
“Since the Polar Plunge will take place on Valentine’s Day, we figured we would make this year’s prize a date package,” Dailey said. “The Special Olympics is a great cause and we are always happy to contribute.”
For more information or to register for the Polar Plunge, contact Jeff Madachy at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Special Olympics Ohio website at www.sooh.org.