Fourth Annual Polar Plunge Later This Month

by Ashley Johnson

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Get a little chilly for a big cause.

The fourth annual Polar Plunge will be held at Jackson Aquatic Center, located at 815 Summit Ave. in Medford, on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 11 a.m. Participants will jump into the frigid cold pool to raise money for the Special Olympics of Oregon. There are both individual and team registration options, all of which can be done online at medfordplunge.kintera.org.

Many teams choose a theme and dress up accordingly. There is an entertaining costume contest before the plunge, which will be at 10:30 a.m. this year. Come join the fun and support an amazing organization! The event is open to the public and all spectators are welcome free of charge. Starbucks will be on site with coffee and hot chocolate, and there will also be soup available for participants. Each person must raise a minimum of $50 in order to jump in, and will receive a commemorative Nike long sleeved shirt. The more money you raise, the more incentives there are!

Last year 404 people took the plunge in Medford, raising $43,546 for Special Olympics. Across Oregon, including Eugene, Portland, Bend, and Corvallis, 3,640 people participated in 2013 and raised $464, 278.  Polar plunges take place every year all across the United States and across the world.  Some events are fundraisers for organizations and some are not. The earliest plunges were typically in celebration of the new year and held on new year’s day.  This is still the case in Canada, where it has taken place every year in Vancouver since 1920.  The Netherlands has been plunging since 1960, and hit a record 36,000 participants on Jan. 1, 2012. The UK calls their event in South Queensferry, Scotland the “Loony Dook”.  All participants dress up and act “loony” while they parade through town.

Here in the U.S., Boston has been holding the event since 1904, which is potentially the oldest identifiable plunge. Sandy Point State Park in Maryland is home to the “plungapalooza”, which raised $2.2 million for the Special Olympics in 2007.

While we may not have the ocean to jump into or thousands of people to participate, the Medford event offers tremendous fun, entertainment, and an opportunity to help the amazing athletes of the Special Olympics of Oregon.  You can register up until the day of the event.  Pre-event check in will be at the North Fred Meyer food entrance in Medford on Friday, Feb. 21 from 4 to 7 p.m. Check in the morning of the event opens at 8:30 a.m. at Jackson Aquatic Center. For more information and to register go to medfordplunge.kintera.org. See you there!

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