Taking the ‘plunge’ for Special Olympics Utah

CEDAR CITY — Cedar City residents gathered at the Cedar City Community Center at 2090 W. Royal Hunte Drive Saturday to sacrifice their bodies to freezing water all in the name of charity.

All of the plungers who dove in the Polar Plunge, Cedar City Community Center, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 30, 2016 | Photo by Carin M. Miller, St. George News
All of the plungers who dove in the Polar Plunge, Cedar City Community Center, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 30, 2016 | Photo by Carin M. Miller, St. George News

The event — Polar Plunge; the beneficiary — Special Olympics Utah. And despite threats of snowstorms on the horizon, Saturday morning started off with the sun shining for the 20 brave souls who took the plunge without batting an eyelid.

Each of the 20 divers who jumped into the frigid 34-degree pool jumped out shivering from head to toe with a smile on their face. Some were in teams, some jumped on their own, but all of them rushed to get back out of the freezing-cold water that was made extra cold by the harsh wind whipping at the wet plungers.

“It felt great,” Polar Plunger Martha Peterson said about the taking a dive for Special Olympics Utah. “It was freezing though.”

Dressed in their best costumes, from superheroes and princesses to soccer players and hot dogs, each diver left a trail of freezing water behind as they quickly headed indoors to warm their shivering bodies.

Best costume winner Martha Peterson, Cedar City Community Center, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 30, 2016 | Photo by Carin M. Miller, St. George News
Best costume winner Martha Peterson, Cedar City Community Center, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 30, 2016 | Photo by Carin M. Miller, St. George News

Peterson took the prize for best costume in this year’s contest, and prizes were given out in two other categories: most money raised by a Special Olympics Utah athlete and most money raised by a Southern Utah University Student.

Special Olympics medalist Linda Pate took the prize for most money raised by an athlete, while SUU soccer player Haley Adams won the prize for most money raised by a student.

The SUU Special Olympics Club also turned out to show their support. As a group, they worked to help promote the event on campus and social media, one club member said.

This year’s plunge marks the return of the national fundraising event which is one of the largest fundraisers for the Special Olympics each year.

After a three-year run from 2010 to 2012, event organizers took a year off from the Polar Plunge to regroup, Cedar City Leisure Services executive assistant Ruth Sessions said.

The event was a popular one for Cedar City residents, Sessions said, but community members had issues with funding distribution methods. Additionally, there were some changes to the Utah Special Olympics administration in Salt Lake City in 2013 which made event-planning communications difficult, she said.

Cedar City Community Center Manager Chris Hudson and another diver help Martha Peterson out of the cold water, Cedar City Community Center, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 30, 2016 | Photo by Carin M. Miller, St. George News
Cedar City Community Center manager Chris Hudson and another diver help Martha Peterson out of the cold water, Cedar City Community Center, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 30, 2016 | Photo by Carin M. Miller, St. George News

Community members had grown quite fond of the Polar Plunge activity in the three years it ran, Sessions said, so they switched things up a bit and brought it back in 2014 as the Chilly Dip.

The Chilly Dip was a community fundraiser that provided scholarships to youth who wanted to play, but could not afford to participate in sports programs for lack of resources.

A community fundraiser that was run by the city was problematic, Sessions said, because the city is not allowed to operate as a charity because it could potentially open an abundance of legal issues.

The event has grown to be well-loved and anticipated in the community, Sessions said, and the idea of not having it anymore was disheartening to many.

That’s why when Special Olympics Utah regional events manager for the South Areas, Matthew Allen, approached Cedar City Leisure Services about coordinating another Polar Plunge in 2016, she said. Community  center employees were happy jump in and help make the collaboration happen.

“The Cedar City Leisure Services were very good to work with Special Olympics Utah,” Allen said. “They have been nothing but great as far as everything involved and helping to make that happen.”

This year’s Polar Plunge happened a little earlier in the season than usual, Allen said, adding that he expects that had something to do with the smaller turnout than usual.

“But I do think that moving forward as we get an earlier jump getting things planned and getting the word out there,” he said, “I anticipate that we will have more support and more awareness in years to come.”

You can still donate to the cause through their website, here.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: cmiller@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Posted in Events, Life, NewsTagged , , , , ,

Leave a Reply