Last Saturday, February 16, Lee County Special Olympics gathered for the first annual Polar Plunge fundraiser. This Special Olympics tradition is common in the northern states and Auburn City Parks and Recreation employee, Ryan Molt, felt it was time he brought it to the South.
Participants wanting to take the plunge for Special Olympics were sponsored for a minimum of $20. Plungers were encouraged to come in unique costumes and jump into the icy water and swim a lap in the pool. The event raised more than $3,800 with 18 plungers and 40 guests in total.
Molt, who plunged dressed as the cartoon character Quail Man, decided to host the event in his backyard several months ago when he bought a house with a pool. Co-Director, Alison Hall, gave him the idea and told him to start planning.
“We are so please to have everyone come out for this event and it’s appropriate that today is the coldest day of the month,” Hall said, “we might even have snow flurries.”
Among the many attendants was Alabama Special Olympics Executive Director, Dr. Robert Bushong, and Special Olympics champion, Jane Cameron. Cameron holds gold medals in local, state and national competitions and competes in six different events. “I love it. I compete in swimming, bowling, marching, horse back riding, golf and sailing,” Cameron said.
Cameron took the plunge along with everyone else while dressed up in a formal tuxedo. According to Bushong, Cameron has always hesitated when jumping into a pool. He said her plunge into the water was the first time he ever saw her dive.
Also in attendance was Co-Director, Dana Stewart, who donned Auburn tiger pajamas, tiger ears and sunglasses and was first in line to plunge into the freezing pool. Before the plunge, Stewart gathered all the participants and thanked them for, “helping us, supporting our cause and taking this plunge for Special Olympics.”
Molt, Stewart and Hall have already begun planning for next year’s event. They hope to host a larger scale plunge at a city pool with a goal to raise $10,000.
“I think the event was very successful and I want to thank all the people who plunged and, of course, their sponsors,” Molt said. Molt also extended gratitude to the eight corporate sponsors. These included Mellow Mushroom, Halftime, Home Instead Senior Care, Tiger Iron Gym, Poka Creek Productions, Niffers, East Alabama Medical Center and Advantage Chiropractic's.