Participants in last year’s Freezin’ for a Reason Polar Plunge run from the water at Plattsburgh City Beach. Last year’s plunge raised more than $23,000 and saw more than 225 people plunge into the chilly waters of Lake Champlain.
Though Plattsburgh City Beach is known for being heavily-populated in the summer, there’s now at least one day a year when people are taking a plunge in less than warmer temperatures. And, this year, that day is Saturday, Nov. 12.
Kaila Horton, director of development for Special Olympics New York, was in town Wednesday to announce the second annual “Freezin’ for a Reason Polar Plunge” will hit Plattsburgh City Beach in two weeks, building on the excitement caused with last year’s event.
“We were astonished with the turnout last year,” said Horton. “We had a lot of people sign up on-line before but we had a lot sign up the day of the plunge.”
The polar plunge will return as a fundraiser for Special Olympics New York, which hosts an annual state competition for those with intellectual disabilities. Last year’s plunge raised more than $23,000 and saw more than 225 people plunge into the chilly waters of Lake Champlain.
“Last year, we didn’t know what to expect,” said Horton. “We thought we’d shoot for $15,000 and we were very surprised we not only hit it, but we went over it.”
New to this year’s event will be the “Chicken Coop VIP Area,” which will provide an alternative to taking a dip in potentially frigid temperatures that day. Those who raise money a minimum of $50 will be able to sit in a special polar plunge viewing section and receive food, beverages and prizes.
“It’s going to be for folks who don’t necessarily want to go in the water but still want to raise money and receive an incentive,” said Horton. “We wanted to provide an option for them.”
The Chicken Coop is something polar plunge organizers in Rochester have tried before, said Horton, and is something that will be tried out this year in Lake George, Massena and Plattsburgh.
The night before the event will be another chance to support Special Olympics as Olive Ridley’s hosts a pre-plunge party Friday, Nov. 11. Partygoers will receive a signature Plunge Pint Glass and two free draft beers that evening courtesy of Plattsburgh Distributing and Olive Ridley’s.
“We worked this year to make the pre-plunge party a little bigger thanks to Plattsburgh Distributing and Olive Ridley’s,” said Horton. “We’re going to have a raffle and live auction. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The Nov. 11 event will also feature a pre-plunge check-in for registered “plungers,” added Horton.
Through the two combined events, Horton said she’d like to exceed the amount of money raised for Special Olympics last year, adding she’s “cautiously optimistic” such a goal is possible.
“You never know with the way the economy is, but I think we can do it,” said Horton. “Last year, 11 plunges raised nearly a million dollars. I think it’s because it’s just one of those events where people have fun doing it. It’s easier to raise money when it’s a fun event.”
City Mayor Donald M. Kasprzak, who participated in last year’s polar plunge, said he was proud to have the event back for its second year.
“I was so pleased to see the interest of so many people last year,” said Kasprzak. “It seems like the North Country always comes together when we have events like this and I hope this year brings out even more people.”
Those interested in signing up for Freezin’ for a Reason may go on-line to www.specialolympicsny.org and click on the “Polar Plunge” icon. There, visitors can learn how to participate by collecting pledges from the community to participate. The Nov. 12 plunge will start with registration at 9 a.m., with the plunge to follow at 12 p.m. Every participant who raises $100 will receive a free hooded sweatshirt.
For more information about the event, contact Kaila Horton at 388-0790, ext. 129, or visit the Special Olympics New York website.