Freeze for a reason: Oakland County Polar Plunge raises over $105,000 for Special Olympics (with video interview)
Hundreds of people gathered to help raise funds for Special Olympics Michigan during the Oakland County Polar Plunge Feb. 12 in Walled Lake.
One hundred and eighty people from 19 teams plunged into the freezing waters of Walled Lake in the third annual Oakland County Polar Plunge. Through their efforts, over $105,000 was raised to support Special Olympics.
The Polar Plunge is one of Special Olympics Michigan’s biggest fundraisers of the year. This year, brave jumpers on Walled Lake made the leap into the cold waters through an eight-by-ten-foot section cut through the lake ice.
The 25-member White Lake Township Police Department raised $22,230, according to Sgt. Brad Connell. All funds raised go toward year-round athletic training and athletic competition for nearly 23,000 children and adults with developmental disabilities in Michigan.
For the cold jump, Connell was joined by his daughter, Ava, a fourth-grade student at Commerce Elementary School. They both dive together.
“Man, that was a blast,” he said. “Frozen!” That’s the whole story. Freeze for a reason, but we enjoyed it. It was my first time jumping with my daughter and my sixth time [doing the plunge.]”
“It was really fun,” Ava said. “It was super cold, but it was to raise funds.”
“I think we had 25 [individuals] in our police department team, as well as loved ones,” Connell said. “We do this in the winter and we do the fire truck draw in the fall. But at the end of the day, it’s about the Special Olympics athletes. Our ministry is really involved in this program.
Teams that dove into Walled Lake included: Cross Country Mortgage – Bloomfield Hills Heroes; White Lake Township Police Department; Farmington Hills Police Department; Ah the Avengers; Expert care; Farmington Early Years Center staff; Team Misfits (Team No.VI); Icy digits; Bloomfield Township Police Department; the Diesel team; Shock and Thaw (Supporters of Lamphere Schools Special Olympics); Martinrea; Waterford Township Police Service; Kennedy Industries; Michigan Mad Vikings; Brave Lion Studios; Shaggy and the Creep; the Kwas team; and The Bronchos.
According to Ted Grossnickle, director of corporate engagement and events for Special Olympics Michigan, the event was held for the third year in a row at the Beach Tiki Bar & Boil in Walled Lake.
“This is the biggest year by far,” Grossnickle said. “The event shows that our divers were ready to get back on the ice and were ready to support our athletes as they return to play.”
The event is one of 32 polar dives hosted by the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Michigan. Each dive has law enforcement supporters who promote the event, encourage others to dive, and take the plunge themselves.
“The White Lake Township Police Department has currently raised more dollars for the Polar Plunge than any law enforcement department in the entire state of Michigan,” Grossnickle said. “This Polar Plunge series is an annual favorite of the entire Special Olympics Michigan staff and board, with almost all involved in planning efforts, and even diving.”
“We are working with Todd Clickner, owner of the Beach Tiki Bar & Boil, who is a strong supporter of the Special Olympics cause, and is graciously opening his facilities for this rental-free event,” Grossnickle said. “There’s still time to register as a diver (or virtual diver where you GET BOLD and GET COLD in any way you choose in any location you choose.”
For more information, visit http://www.plungemi.org.
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