Ninety-six people jumped into a pool of cold water at Stillwater’s Polar Plunge to raise money for Special Olympics Oklahoma on Saturday morning.
The Polar Plunge is an event held every year to raise money and awareness for the Special Olympics. People who registered to jump at the Polar Plunge raised $9,400 in donations, the largest amount the event has ever raised.
Stan Clark, the owner of Eskimo Joe’s, said he’s proud of the partnership the Special Olympics and Eskimo Joe’s has. Eskimo Joe’s provided the venue and volunteers to help make the Polar Plunge successful.
“We’ve been able to make a huge donation to Special Olympics Oklahoma every year for 21 years now,” Clark said. “We’re just really proud of the partnership and so proud for the [Special Olympics] athletes.”
Some people who attended the Polar Plunge said they are involved every year.
June Fitch, the president of the booster club for Stillwater Special Olympics, said she has registered for the Polar Plunge for the past seven years because of her son, Brian.
“My son is a special olympian … he has done Special Olympics since he was 9,” Fitch said. “I just love what Special Olympics does for these kids with special needs.”
The Special Olympics allows athletes with special needs to compete with one other in Stillwater, Cushing, Perkins, Morrison and Redrock. It also allows people with disabilities to be around their friends when it comes time for Special Olympics to happen in the summer.
“This is a thing that young and old can compete in if you’re special,” Fitch said. “They like competing, but more they like just to see each other and be a part of an event they can be successful at.”
People from all over the community came out to watch and support, including Oklahoma State University’s Pom and Cheer, the Stillwater Police Department and Stillwater FFA.
People of all different ages registered to jump. Terry Coats, a 68 year old who works at Wilson Chevrolet in Stillwater, said he had never done the Polar Plunge before this year.
“It was beautiful,” Coats said. “It was a little cold, but it was okay. It was all worth it.”
Like Coats, some people plunged for the first time in support of children with special needs.
After plunging, Carrie Ryan, who represented Glencoe Public Schools, said she has decided to participate again.
“We’re doing it next year for sure,” Ryan said. “My school does Special Olympics, so this was exciting for us. My son is also one of the participants. He’s done it for six years to raise awareness for kids that need special help.”
Other schools participated in the Polar Plunge as well. Tiffany Hixon represented Cushing Lower Elementary to support the special needs kids there.
“It’s been cold, but it’s been exciting,” Hixon said. “I just have a heart for kids. Anything we can do to help any of them out.”