Special Olympics Annual Polar Plunge Raises Over $16k

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This past Saturday, March 11, over 100 people gathered at Beach 94th Street for the Special Olympics Rockaway Queens Polar Plunge, an annual event with the goal of raising money and awareness for New York City’s Special Olympics athletes. This year marks the 8th year the event has been hosted in Rockaway with teams from Queens, Brooklyn, and Long Island coming out to support.

A group of brave plungers head for the water during last year’s event. Photo by Thomas Burke.

A rainy day with a water temperature of 42 degrees made for less than ideal plunging circumstances as only half of the registered participants showed up, but spirits remained high as the teams of plungers ran full speed into the cold water: some in traditional bathing suits and others in costumes with props and signs to represent their teams and onlookers cheering them on.

“Currently, we have raised over $16,000, sponsoring 45 athletes,” Kaitlin Rosner, the senior director of development of the Special Olympics New York, told The Wave. “These funds help to provide year-round sports training and competition for individuals with intellectual disabilities in our community.”

The funds raised will also contribute to equipment costs, travel fees, and athletes’ medals. Of the funds raised so far, the top teams that raised the most money include the Cross Island Plungers ($4,996), SCSOOOOO COLD ($2,850), Courts for Mary Quinn ($2,400), Team Chill Out ($1,250), Ridgewood Savings Bank ($1,115), Alpha Sigma Alpha Gamma Phi Chapter ($1,075), The Salty Pickles ($660), and LU 3 MC ($125).

As for individual plungers, the top 10 who raised the most money are John Hutton ($1,050), Robert Hintelmann ($800), Denise Zayas ($700), Theresa Trainor ($590), Thomas Quinn ($550), Dennis Maroudas ($450), Eric Bass ($411), Daria Caponera ($350), Jonathan Beiner ($350), and Lisa Diana ($350).

Special Olympics New York representatives hold up their banners at last year’s event. Photo by Thomas Burke.

With $16,191 total raised as of press time, the polar plunge managed to raise 53% of its initial goal, although that number continues to climb as people can still donate on their website to ensure more Special Olympics athletes can enjoy the same opportunities as everyone else.

“Special Olympics New York provides inclusive opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to discover and unleash the champion within,” added Rosner. “Our athletes experience the thrill of competing in authentic sports. They overcome defeat, taste victory and stay active for life.”

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