Students from Salem High School are raising money for the Special Olympics; however, this fundraiser involves something a little different. On Saturday, Feb. 11, students and faculty will have the opportunity to plunge into freezing water for a worthy cause.
The idea of jumping into freezing water in the middle of winter may seem insane but for the past 24 years that is exactly what thousands of students and faculty have been doing. During this fundraiser the Special Olympics gets the majority of funding for all the competitions.
According to Angela Phipps, who leads the SHS team, some of the money goes towards the Washington County program, but the majority of the money goes to the state program. The money helps fund area and state competitions. The athletes do not have to pay anything to be a part of the Special Olympics, so this money helps them do competitions.
Participants in the plunge must sign up through the Special Olympics Indiana website and must raise at least $85. Phipps is asking for money to be turned in by February 8. Donations can be made online when the person is registered or can be made in cash. Checks must be written to “Special Olympics Indiana.” SHS raises approximately $2,000 for Special Olympic athletes at the Polar Plunge every year.
Polar Plunge is located at Deam Lake in Borden. Students who are taking part in the Plunge have to find their own transportation. Transportation will not be provided. Phipps said that participants should arrive at Deam Lake at 11 a.m. to start plunging at noon. The SHS team is called the Arctic Lions and have been plunging at Deam Lake since 2016.
“This is a fun event; not something most people would do. There are always a lot of laughs and it's all for a great group of people. Special Olympics is completely free to the athletes. Fundraisers like this are what makes that possible,” Phipps said.
SHS juniors Gabrielle Hypes and Maggie Gibson are participating in the Polar Plunge this year. Both Hypes and Gibson were part of the Arctic team last year. The pair said that it took them both about two weeks to collect the money. Hypes said that last year the water was in the 30s when the team got to jump in.
Gibson said, “We were one of the last groups to get into the water so we were freezing before we even got the chance to plunge. Once I hit the water it felt like pin pricks all up and down my legs and it was hard to run through the water back to the land.”
Anyone who wants to donate money or join the team should go to the Special Olympics Indiana website to sign up or donate. All donations are welcome.