By: Duane Blankenship | Category: Other | Issue: February 2010
Admission is free for spectators at the Polar Plunge, to be held at Bass Pro Shops in Broken Arrow.
Although you may not be acutely informed about Polar Plunge, you’ve probably heard of it. It is a fundraising challenge made to an individual or group that dares them to dive into a cold body of water in order to raise money for Special Olympics, and to do so in the extremes of winter! Special Olympics serves individuals with intellectual disabilities, and over 9,500 athletes participate in more than 120 Oklahoma events each year.
A total of 11 Polar Plunges will be held in Oklahoma this year. Broken Arrow hosts its 4th annual event on February 20. Participants raised $122,000 last year, and the 2010 fundraising goal is $150,000. Planning committee member and event organizer Lisa Ford is expecting in excess of 100 plungers and more than 1,000 spectators. Admission is free to spectators. FOX23 will provide emcees for the chilling spectacle.
Area law enforcement officers are a big part of this special fundraiser. Through their official organization LETR (Law Enforcement Torch Run), they raised a total of $250,000 for Special Olympics Oklahoma in 2009. Hats off to these outstanding men and women.
Each plunger collects pledges from family, friends and businesses to raise some big bucks for Special Olympics. This year, area participants will take the plunge at a Broken Arrow Bass Pro Shops lake. Registration and accompanying festivities will commence at 10 a.m., with the Polar Plunge beginning at 11 a.m. You won’t suffer from the cold as a spectator – Broken Arrow Civitans will be serving hot chocolate throughout the festivities.
Tulsa Police detective, Broken Arrow Civitan, and plunger Ross Ford hopes that February 20 brings sunny skies for the Polar Plunge, benefiting Special Olympics.
If you’d like to take the plunge, go online to www.sook.org for information and to register. Or, if you are a little “chicken” when it comes to jumping in freezing water at the height of winter, you may go to the website to pledge your support and dollars to an individual or team.
Plunging as a team is much more fun than plunging alone. And think of the pleasure you could have watching friends and co-workers scream uncontrollably as they hit the icy water. To plunge, you must collect a minimum of $50 in pledges. Anyone can do that! Teams and pledges come from the workplace, church groups, clubs, companies, student organizations, families and individuals.
Participants receive a Polar Plunge T-shirt, just a token of appreciation for their daring. There are also other incentives awarded the day of the plunge according to the amount of money raised by individuals and teams. The Broken Arrow and Tulsa Dive Teams, Broken Arrow Paramedics, and Life Flight will be on hand in case of an emergency.
If you aspire to be a plunger, you may also create a personal fundraising web page right up to the day of the event. It only takes a few minutes, and you can send the link to your friends and family asking for support and donations via a credit card online. If you don’t wish to be a plunger, it’s completely understandable. But organizers and participants do hope you’ll get in on the action by actively supporting a favorite plunging participant. It’s easy to go online and make a pledge that will do so much in putting smiles on the faces of our Oklahoma Special Olympics athletes.
The Broken Arrow Polar Plunge features a tug-of-war contest between the Broken Arrow Fire Department, the Tulsa Special Operations Team (SOT), and the Broken Arrow SOT. It’s a round robin, and the losers of each tugging contest immediately take the plunge. The winning team is exempt from having to leap into the frigid waters. And they have bragging rights for another year. The Broken Arrow Fire Department has been the undisputed winner of each previous Polar Plunge. Although they are the defending champions, there has been a lot of trash talk that this is the year they will be taking the plunge. But talk is cheap – where will you put your support and money?
Event organizer Lisa Ford shows off a Polar Plunge T-Shirt and other items that will be presented to award winners.
Blankenship graduated from the University of Oklahoma and has enjoyed a lifetime career in advertising. He started his own advertising business in 1993 and enjoys creating graphic art and writing. Hobbies include hunting, fishing and pencil drawings. Duane and his wife, Janice, have been married over 50 years and are active in their church and community. He has been a contributing writer for Value News/Values Magazine since 2005.