Get ready to jump, Louisville, as you splash into the chilly waters of the Ohio at the 15th annual Polar Plunge. Be part of the biggest Plunge yet as teams join together to reach their goal of 1500 participants. The Louisville Plunge returns to the docks below Tumbleweed on the Waterfront on Saturday, February 23, 2013. Every Polar Bear will receive an official Polar Plunge t-shirt and certificate. Top fundraisers will be named King and Queen. Plungers can dress in their craziest costume or their favorite character for the annual contest. Grab your team, head to the docks and help the Louisville community raise money for Special Olympics.
Last year set a new record for the Louisville Plunge. According to Candace Thompson, Special Events Director for Special Olympics, 1200 people raised $350,000. The Louisville Plunge is one of six Plunges in Kentucky, raising over $325,000 in 2012. For the past 14 years, a total of $5 million has been contributed to Special Olympics by Polar Plunge events.
This year’s event will be more spectacular than ever to celebrate the 15 year anniversary. Opening ceremonies will follow the 9 a.m. registration. “There will be bouncies for kids, fake snowball fights, and plenty of food vendors,” Thompson said. Groups of 30 will go off in three slips, and each plunger needs to raise $75 to participate. “Many times corporate employees register a team and come up with very creative names,” Thompson added.
One employee at PMR Companies is excited to take the Plunge for his second time. Derek VanVactor, Captain of PMR Plungers, was connected to Special Olympics through a friend in 2010. Being at the Plunge and seeing Special Olympic athletes made an impression on VanVactor. “They were cheering us on,” he said. He wasn’t familiar with Special Olympics at the time. “I did some research and found out what a wonderful organization it is,” added VanVactor. His first Plunge had him dipping in 15 degree water on a very cold day. Knowing that he will be helping others out, VanVactor is looking forward to this year’s Plunge. His team, made up of seven employees and three family members, is supported by PMR Companies. He hopes to reach his personal fundraising goal of $2,500, surpassing $1,700 from the last event.
Last year’s King of the Plunge, Russell Miller, will be returning with his Ice Socks team. His wife, Denise, who doesn’t jump, joins him with the title of Top Too Chicken. After hearing about the Louisville Plunge eight years ago on WHAS-11, Miller convinced his best friend to jump with him. “I didn’t know I needed a team name until registration day,” Miller recalls. “I just picked Ice Socks. No specific reason.” His team of nine members raised $10,300; making them the highest fundraiser team. Miller’s bond with Special Olympics grew as each year progressed, and he began having parties at his home as a way to kick off the event. “It became a competition among team members to raise money, as well as compete against other teams,” he added. His core group is associated with Champion Trucking where he is employed as manager. “But there’s no one I don’t try to recruit.” Last year, his team raised $68,000. This year, he will again bring his RV for an all-day tailgating party, offering chili and beverages, and making it a day to support the event.
Special Olympics provide sports training and athletic competitions for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. These opportunities allow them to demonstrate their courage, participate in something new, and develop lasting friendships. Donations received from Polar Plunges are crucial to continue these programs. Join teams like PMR Plungers and Ice Socks at Louisville Waterfront on February 23rd to help support this important charity. Don’t let a little chill keep you inside!