ARARAT — Some things get better with age, and an event which supports Special Olympics is one such thing, according to a Surry County official.
“This event just continues to grow,” said Surry County Parks and Recreation Director Daniel White of Saturday’s Polar Plunge at Homeplace Recreational Park.
The water in the pool was about 45 degrees, but that didn’t stop dozens from taking the plunge in support of Special Olympics in the event’s sixth year.
Participants made donations to the program before taking the plunge, and there were many ways to enter the frigid pool. Some decided to ride a tube down the water slide, and others jumped from the rope swing at the pool. A number of Surry Central High School students jumped as a group from the pool’s edge.
A couple of people opted to take the more prolonged approach to the plunge, walking in slowly from the pool’s shallow end.
Rob Smith was one such participant. Smith said he never misses the opportunity to plunge for a good cause, and he gets his money’s worth.
Smith broke his record by staying in the pool for 46 minutes.
There was an option for those who wanted to support the program but also wanted to stay warm.
White said the parks and recreation department sold more than 100 “I’m too Chicken to Plunge” shirts. The shirts were $20 per shirt.
He noted Saturday’s crowd of spectators was one of the largest crowds ever at the event.
Estimates indicated the plunge had raised about $8,000.
“This supports Special Olympics in so many ways,” said White, noting the dollars raised will help to provide uniforms for Surry County athletes and transport those athletes to events.
“The community really gets behind it,” added White.
Some examples of such community support were evident at the event. Aaron’s provided water and hot chocolate, and Homeplace and the Key family volunteered the park for use, said White. Phillips-Van Heusen provided watches for the winners of a costume contest, which took place before folks started taking the plunge.
After the event, White noted an anonymous donor had contributed $500 to get a county official, Finance Officer Sarah Bowen, to jump into the water.
Though Bowen described the water as “terrible,” she said she was happy to have provided a contribution to the cause.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.