• Special Olympics Illinois Hosts Polar Plunge and Polar Donut Dash

    October 19, 2018
    In 2019, Polar Plunges will occur throughout Illinois (in 23 different locations) from February 15 until March 24. Dubbed the “coolest event of winter,” this popular fundraiser generates both money and awareness for Special Olympics Illinois and its various programs. The buzz of the Polar Plunge can be felt across the entire state; in fact, more than 500 million impressions were generated and 672 media stories in 2018! Most importantly, the momentous impact that this event has on Special Olympics Illinois and its programs allows even more athletes to live fuller, more empowered lives. While the Polar Plunge attracts a diverse cross-section of people, these participants all share an adventurous spirit, a generous heart and the desire to make a difference. These event participants, or “Plungers,” collect a minimum of $100 in donations for the privilege of jumping into the frigid Illinois waters. This unique fundraiser unites thousands each winter who strive to make a difference in the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities. In 2018, 6,532 Plungers raised more than $2 million for Special Olympics Illinois!

    Special Olympics Illinois piloted a new addition to the Plunge season, the Polar Donut Dash. This event is a 5K fun run where individuals not only test their speed but their ability to consume donuts. Participants or “Dashers” are encouraged to indulge at various donut stops along the 3.1 mile route and receive a time deduction for each donut consumed (max of 1 donut per stop). The Polar Donut Dash and Polar Plunge takes place at the same location with the Dash occurring the morning of the Plunge. This exciting addition attracts a new participation type, runners! Both events are organized, promoted and ran as one!

    The Polar Plunge is also a key part of law enforcement’s grassroots efforts to raise both money and awareness for their charity of choice: Special Olympics. The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the single largest year-round fundraising vehicle benefitting Special Olympics. Approximately 3,000 law enforcement personnel annually carry the Flame of Hope nearly 1,500 miles throughout hundreds of Illinois communities via 23 different legs, or routes, to its final destination – the Opening Ceremonies of the Special Olympics Summer Games in Normal. This symbolic running of the torch garners awareness for their passionate partnership with Special Olympics. Officers also dedicate their time throughout the year to hold special events as part of the yearly Torch Run. In 2019, the Law Enforcement Torch Run strives to raise more than $4.5 million for Special Olympics Illinois through a variety of fundraising efforts, highlighted by the Polar Plunge.
    Kimberly Talley, Co-Director - Region K