Swimming in the heat of the summer can be a chilly affair in the Adirondacks. For the next few months, people across New York State will be cooling off by taking an icy plunge in support of Special Olympic athletes.
“Last weekend our first Polar Plunge in Plattsburgh was met with great success.” says New York Special Olympics Associate Director Kaila Horton. “ Between 200-220 people plunged raising over $22,600 dollars in support of the athletes. The Polar Plunge is one of our big fundraisers of the year for Special Olympics.”
Horton says that the cost of training and participating in the Special Olympics each year runs about $400 per athlete. All the coaches are volunteers and work through local Special Olympic Training Clubs, which allows other athletes and students to get involved on a local level. Horton wants to make sure that everyone knows that if there isn’t a local training club, the headquarters will help start one and recruit volunteers and local athletes.
The format for taking a plunge for Special Olympics is easy. Each individual is asked to set a fundraising goal. The suggestion is the $400 cost to send one athlete to the Special Olympics. Sometimes teams are formed but it’s individuals that raise money to enable the athlete for the upcoming games.
The Polar Plunge on the schedule is this weekend in Lake George. For the fourth year Lake George is “Freezin’ for a Reason” November 20th at Shepard’s Cove. Registration starts at 9:00 a.m. with a noon start time to an icy dip into Lake George.
“This is the first time that I’ll be taking the plunge. We have a large team of about 25 people,” says Max’s Buddies Team Leader Lisa Jackoski. “We have a whole mish-mash of people ranging from the Lake George School Superintendent to my mother. There are even people I’ve never met that are on our team, friends of friends that said they would do it. I am astounded by how many people are willing to participate in this.”
Jackoski is not only team leader, but also mother to fifteen-year-old, Special Olympian Max Jackoski. She has a personal understanding of the importance participation has on these athletes. Max took part in the Track and Field event in Queensbury last year and now plans on branching out into either skiing or swimming.
Last year students and teachers from his school made Max a huge banner that read ‘LG [Lake George] Loves Max.’ When he arrived for his event the sign was hung on the fence for all to see.
“I think most people are unaware of how much the Special Olympics costs,” says Jackoski. “Surprisingly there are still people that don’t know the Special Olympics exist and that it is free for the athletes. I saw Max’s friendships blossom through being part of this program. I saw his self-confidence grow due to the Special Olympics.”
Max finished his event last year and asked if he won. “I was able to tell him yes,” says Jackoski. “The Special Olympics really embraces that philosophy that everyone is a winner. Before each event they say their motto, Let me win but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
She is already looking for ways to grow her group for next year. The Max’s Buddies Team has surpassed this year’s fundraising goals with $2,000 so far raised.
For those not willing to risk the chilly Adirondack waters of Lake George, spectators are encouraged for the Lake George Polar Plunge.
The Special Olympics Polar Plunge logo was used with permission
content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George.