By MAGGIE MCMURRAY
Moapa Valley Progress
If you’re looking for an exhilarating way to start the new year – one that is slightly out of the ordinary, will wake you up, get you moving, and that benefits a good cause – then the upcoming Polar Plunge at the Mesquite Recreation Center pool may be just the activity you are looking for. The event is a fundraiser to benefit the Southern Nevada Special Olympics and everyone is invited to participate in what promises to be a very fun day.
This year’s plunge will take place on Saturday, January 20. The day will kick off at 10 am with registration. Anyone can participate, although the under-18 crowd will need a signed waiver from a parent before they can plunge.
To be able to plunge, people must raise at least $125 in donations, although high school students can plunge for less. People can take the plunge as individuals or form teams for moral support as they dash into the water. For an extra $10, the very brave can make an even bigger splash by entering the pool by way of the slide.
If you want to support Special Olympics, but don’t quite have the desire to jump into a cold pool in January, then there is even a Chicken Plunge category that includes all the perks of a regular plunger, without having to actually take the plunge.
Everyone who participates with a minimum $125 in donations will receive a number of great take-away items. In addition to bragging rights and the fun of jumping in freezing cold water, participants also score an official Polar Plunge long-sleeved T-shirt and free admittance to the plunge festivities. The festivities include a full hot dog/hamburger cookout lunch and other fun activities. There are also additional awards for higher donation levels, which are listed on the event website.
One of the highlights of the day is the costume contest, which will take place at 11:30am. Although everyone is encouraged to wear a costume for fun, they are not required.
The lunch and other fun activities will take place immediately following the plunge, which is scheduled for noon. Guests are welcome to join plungers at the lunch and post-plunge activities for $5/person.
All funds from the event will go to fund local Special Olympics athletes and the Southern Nevada program.
The local Special Olympics team, the Mesquite Desert Stars, includes many athletes with special needs from Moapa Valley. The money collected goes toward helping to offset registration costs, travel, and tournament fees at the many events where the local athletes participate. It also helps determine the level at which they are able to participate.
Participating in Special Olympics can be life-changing for many kids with special needs. Local mom Brenda Bowler, is a parent of a special needs daughter and is planning on taking the Polar Plunge herself.
“Special Olympics is really a great organization for many special-needs kids,” Bowler said. “It makes them feel included and special and that they can do things that other kids can do. It gives them self-confidence and self-esteem that carries over into their everyday lives. It really makes them feel a part of something.”
Bowler said that activities like the upcoming Polar Plunge benefit the whole community. That’s because they not only help families and special-needs kids, but they help community members become aware of those around them, she said.
“Activities like the Polar Plunge are great because they involve both the community and the families of those kids with special needs,” Bowler added. “They really get people involved and it makes them aware of the people around them. There are people in our neighborhoods, churches, and community with special needs that we just don’t notice sometimes from day-to-day. Through events like these, people can have fun, get to know each other, and become more aware. It’s a win-win situation for everyone who takes the time to get involved.”
It’s easy to get involved in Special Olympics and the upcoming Polar Plunge. For more information, go to sonv.org and click on “Attend a Fundraiser.” Next, click on “Polar Plunge” and then on “Mesquite” to get to the local page. Any questions can also be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.