Freezin for a Reason

Raising money for Special Olympics Kentucky

by Austin Johnson

Photo by Austin Johnson/HJ

What makes it a great day to go swimming? Many would say, “It needs to be sunny and warm, without a cloud in the sky,” but they would be wrong. A cold day in February — preferably with snow — would be the correct answer. Why is that the correct answer? It’s simple, Polar Plunge. The most memorable swims of my life weren’t at a beach or in an Olympic size pool but in a crazy costume, in a parking lot, in February.

Every year Lexington comes together to jump into ice-cold water to raise money for Special Olympics Kentucky. This year was no different. The water was a bone chilling 34 degrees. That didn’t stop teams from jumping into the arctic water to support Special Olympics Kentucky. Teams were comprised of friends, families, athletes, and members of local businesses, law enforcement, and schools.

Photo by Austin Johnson/HJ

Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of sports for individuals with intellectual disabilities. It provides opportunities for people to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and socialize with peers. “It helps athletes build confidence and be a full member of their community,” said Taylor Ballinger, Special Events Director at Special Olympics Kentucky.

Ballinger recommends that people planning on jumping in a polar plunge should bring “Warm Thoughts, a towel, change of clothes, but mostly a good attitude. You must be ready to embrace the cold.” If jumping into ice water scares you, Polar Plunge also has a “Too Chicken to Jump” category where you can still raise money but stay dry. Ballinger said, “We appreciate the support of the community this year’s event raised roughly $67,000 and that money stays in Kentucky to help individuals with intellectual disabilities.”

If you are interested in getting involved with Special Olympics head to their website.

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