The temperature was 35 degrees, but this did not stop the community from jumping in freezing cold water. On Saturday, Feb. 8 the Pittsburg Police Department hosted its annual “Polar Plunge”. The event took place from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Crimson Villas Apartments located off of Rouse St. During this event, different groups around the Pittsburg community joined in volunteering to raise money for Special Olympics Kansas and also by plunging into the pool.
“The Polar Plunge is where the community comes together, and we do different plunges around the state” said Erin Fletcher, director of grants and development for Special Olympics Kansas.
This year was the 15th annual plunge in Pittsburg. Each year different organizations from around the city join in to volunteering to help raise funds to support Kansas Special Olympics.
“It (the polar plunge) is the biggest fundraiser of the entire year for the Special Olympics,” said Fletcher.
The plunge hosted a series of events. At 9 a.m. people began checking in for registration, at 11 a.m. there was a costume contest, and at 12 p.m. the plunge began. The Law Enforcement Torch Run is an organization that has a large part in putting together the Polar Plunge.
“Every year we do 11 to 13 plunges across the state, and each time we raise over 250,000 dollars” said Lieutenant Chris Moore of the Pittsburg Police Department, and director of the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
The Torch Run was founded in 1981 by Wichita Kansas law enforcement. It is the largest grassroot fundraising organization that sets out to raise funds and provide for the Special Olympics.
“It has turned into a global movement that raises over 55 million dollars a year for Special Olympics,” said Moore.
There are many companies and departments that was involved in the Polar Plunge. The Pittsburg Fire Department, as well as KOAM news station, were some of the groups that plunged into the pool. These organizations begin planning for the plunge very early in the year, so that their goal can be met for raising funds.
“We start planning immediately for the plunge next year,” said Fletcher. “We plan early so everyone has plenty of time to meet their fundraising goal, and so they are able to plunge.”
The plunge also has sponsors that has helped financially with the event. Some of the sponsors included Sonic, Tri-State Building, Fort Scott Munitions, Austerman Construction, and Key Apparel.
“Were focusing on working more direct with community organizations” said Bryan Pitts, Count Executive at Key Apparel. “We got involved with the Polar Plunge because it fits well with our winter line.”
Key Apparel provided beanie hats, as well as sweatshirts for the plunge. The National guard also provided resources for the participants to use. They set up tents that included heaters, so that the plungers could warm up after jumping into the pool.
Each year the Polar Plunge has a goal of raising more money for Special Olympics than they had in the past year. Last year in the 2019 plunge, the organization raised $640,000.
“Our job is to raise money for the Special Olympic athletes so that they are able to compete in sports events, have wellness checks, and also be able to travel,” said Moore.