Add ICE-COLD WATER + FREEZING OCEAN BREEZES + BATHING SUITS, and you get crowds of Delawareans making a big difference! Perhaps you’ve seen the billboards and heard about the crazy event unique to our state: The Polar Bear Plunge. This year celebrates the fundraiser’s 30th anniversary.
If the thought of running into the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean on the first Sunday of February makes you want to jump back under the covers…THINK AGAIN! These minutes of your time (freezing, yes…but very special) can make someone’s dream become a reality. Each year, thousands take the plunge to ‘pool’ their support, their energy, their influence and their donations to benefit the Delaware Special Olympics.
More than 3,200 brrrr-ave people participated last year, raising $1.1 million for Special Olympics. Whether their temporary lapse in common sense is due to winter cabin fever or a dare from coworkers, they are there for the zany fun and knowledge that they are helping make a difference. They help make it possible for more than 4,200 athletes with intellectual disabilities participate in Delaware’s Special Olympics (SOD) each year, experiencing the joy of competition.
“The Plunge has Gone ‘Brrr-urtual’ This Year,” is the catchy tagline event planners chose to remind people that the plunge is still taking place on February 6th, 2021 albeit not entirely at its usual venue of Rehoboth Beach. This decision has been made “with the safety of our Bears and volunteers involved in mind,” says SOD executive director Ann Grunert.
Participants (‘Bears’ as they are called) are encouraged to take the plunge in their own creative style. Backyard kiddie pools, water pistol fights, bucket dumpling and even an outdoor shower are encouraged!
Even better, Bears are allowed to control their own water temperature this year! Organizers hope this will encourage even those timid towel holders who watch from the beach to finally give it a try in the comfort of their own home. The more support…THE BETTER for this great cause.
And for the old-schoolers who still insist on the tradition of running across the sand into the Atlantic waves – with water temperatures averaging 42 degrees in February – there will be a professional dive team in the water, and medical personnel on-hand as usual.
The Polar Bear Plunge attracts an estimated 20,000 spectators to the beach town each year. It’s one of Delaware’s top fundraising events. Despite having to postpone other events associated with the plunge this year (chili contest, a 5K race the day before, sandcastle art displays and more), the annual sponsorship and participation remain strong!
Bears receive a commemorative sweatshirt for chasing the shivers after their plunge. In return, they are asked to raise a minimum of $75 in pledges. Teams of coworkers, families and even Special Olympic athletes themselves are common participants, while community support from sponsors and donors continues to grow despite this year’s setbacks.
So, do something really COOL this year. Volunteer, donate or hit the water running! Getting cold feet has never been so rewarding.