Polar Plunge raises funds, awareness for West Virginia Special Olympics

Members of the community gathered Saturday outside of the Joan C. Edwards Stadium to participate in this year’s Polar Plunge to raise awareness and money for the Special Olympics of West Virginia.

“People come out and show support for the Special Olympics of West Virginia by donating,” said John Corbett, CEO of Special Olympics of West Virginia and one of the coordinators of the event. “The money raised during these events goes towards providing year-round sports programming for those who have intellectual disabilities.”

Corbett said the money is also used to provide hotel rooms and food, as well as cover competition costs for those wanting to compete in any of the Special Olympic events throughout the year.

The event consisted of the plunge into cold water as well as a costume contest and an after party. Those who contributed $50 or more were given t-shirts commemorating the Polar Plunge. People who raised more money were given tumblers, blankets and gift cards depending on how much they donated.

While the Polar Plunge is often performed in colder weather, the weather this year was warmer and wetter than usual. Despite it raining for part of the day on Saturday, Tyler Hickman, the director of members and community engagement for Sigma Tau Gamma, said there was a good turnout.

“It got a little colder throughout the day,” Hickman said. “I would say it was a decent turnout for a good cause even if it was rainy.”

Kendra Wallace, the director for sports and training with the West Virginia Special Olympics, said the donations raised allow her to see her favorite part of her job.

“I think my favorite part is seeing the athletes’ faces when they compete,” Wallace said. “And I love the joy they bring to other people’s lives that are helping volunteer.”

Corbett said even though Sigma Tau Gamma has coordinated the Polar Plunge before, it was the organization’s first appearance on campus this year. Corbett said he hopes to come back again in the future.

“I hope to make this an annual event and raise awareness throughout the year,” Corbett said. “We want to raise awareness not just on campus, but in the community as well. So, we say thank you to everyone that came out today, and we hope they come back to join us next year.”

Sarah Ingram can be contacted at [email protected]