Just when you think its time to pack away the swim gear and pull out the skis, its time for the annual Polar Plunge benefiting the Special Olympics. I am not one to actually take the required dip, but hold vigorously to my role as spectator when it comes to braving any Adirondack water in November.
From the Finger Lakes to Lake Champlain and Lake George to Staten Island there are 14 Polar Plunge events scheduled with ones in Plattsburgh and Lake George on November 16. Lake George’s Polar Plunge will kick off from Shepard’s Park while the Plattsburgh participants will brave a chilly Lake Champlain from City Beach.
According to Special Olympics Development Specialist Erin McCartan this is the seventh year of their Lake George plunge and the fourth for their Plattsburgh event. Partnering with the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, the Polar Plunges are one their biggest fundraiser throughout the year. » Continue Reading.
There are so many things happening around the East Coast today with many people homeless and suffering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. I am in awe how people bonding together can make change. I realize that some needs are immediate; others are a long-term process. One constant is the ability to demonstrate to my own children how fortunate they truly are. There are places accepting donations, volunteers are needed to sort clothes.
Throughout all the chaos sometimes a moment of levity is needed. Watching 550 people rush into chilly Lake George on November 17 is one such annual event. There are 14 Special Olympic Polar Plunges around New York State. According to Development Specialist Michelle Iorizzo these events enable intellectually disabled children and adults to compete for free in 22 Olympic style sports in regional and state competitions throughout the year. » Continue Reading.
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
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