Students plunge into icy waters for Special Olympics
Forty-degree water temperatures didn’t stop 14,500 people, including two JC students, from charging into the Chesapeake Bay on Saturday, Jan. 28 for the Polar Bear Plunge.
Junior Stephanie Almasy and senior Jill Lepus participated in the Maryland State Police 16th Annual Polar Bear Plunge at Sandy Point State Park.
“I would definitely do it again. Actually, I’ve done it the past three years with my two friends from Bel Air High School but I want to make this a tradition and get more people to do it with me,” junior Stephanie Almasy said.
The Polar Bear Plunge helps fundraise for Special Olympics Maryland, an organization devoted to sports training and competition for those with intellectual disabilities, according to the plunge website.
“I decided to do the Polar Bear Plunge because my best friend Emily and I have been volunteering for Special Olympics events and at Gallagher’s special friends program. We really enjoy volunteering at these places and the people we work with. Also, my best friend has a cousin with autism so we thought this was a great cause and a great way to give back,” Lepus said.
The Maryland States Police asks for donations and wants plungers to get sponsors to support the Special Olympics. Even if only 50 dollars are raised, the participant can still get “a plunge sweatshirt, free lunch, and entrance to get in the water and plunge,” Almasy said.
“My best friend Emily and I got a team together of 13 people and raised 1,400 dollars,” Lepus said.
On the day of the plunge, there were two different plunge times, either 1 or 3 p.m. There was also access to a heated tent as well as musicians, vendors, sand sculptors, and a costume contest to distract participants from the chilly dip that awaited them.
Lepus looked on the bright side of the situation. “We got lucky because this winter has been so unseasonably warm, so typically [the water] would have been a lot colder,” Lepus said.
Almasy “painted [her] car with white paint saying on the back of it ‘honk for plungers!’” and arrived early to get a good spot in the warming tent.
“I learned that this is a really huge fundraiser and so many people care about this cause and want to get involved,” Lepus said.
Just a little discomfort on the part of the plungers “can help so many Special Olympians,” Almasy said.
Sarah Kearby is a Lifestyles Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.