Some wannabe polar bears will be taking the plunge for Special Olympics this weekend in Joplin and next weekend in Pittsburg, Kan.
The Joplin Polar Plunge will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday in Shoal Creek at Zan’s Campground, 2480 Coyote Drive. Registration begins at noon. It will be followed by the Post Plunge Party and silent auction at the Joplin Elks Lodge, 1802 W. 26th St.
To participate, a plunger must be at least 10 years old and raise a minimum of $75 in donations by the day of the event. This year’s goal is $22,600. Prizes will be awarded to individuals and teams, and to those with the best costumes.
Proceeds benefit Special Olympics Missouri’s year-round program of sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. More than 17,000 athletes participate in 21 sports throughout the state.
The Polar Plunge is a project of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Missouri. The Joplin and Carthage police departments will be hosts for this event.
Lt. W.D. “Bill” Barksdale, with the Carthage Police Department, will be taking his seventh plunge this year in what many have described as an unbearable event.
“Wet suits are not allowed,” Barksdale said. “There will be divers there in wet suits in the water, and we’ll have an ambulance, too, just in case. What you’ll see is a lot of costumed fanatics getting wet.
“The weather doesn’t matter. We check the water temperature before we plunge every year. Last year, the water was 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature.”
Last year, the event attracted 62 plungers. Barksdale said he is hoping a hundred people will show up Saturday.
Saturday’s forecast calls for partly sunny skies and a high of about 40 degrees.
Barksdale said many people register on the day of the event.
“And, there’s plenty of room for spectators to watch on both sides of the creek,” he said.
The Southeast Kansas Polar Plunge will be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 8, in a swimming pool at Crimson Villas, 1904 S. Rouse St. in Pittsburg. The event includes a 5K run around Pittsburg State University. The goal is $36,000. Details: www.ksso.org/plunge.
After the plunge at noon, the Polar Plunge Chili Cook-off will be held at the First Church of the Nazarene, 816 E. Quincy St. The fee is $3 per person. Plungers eat for free.
PEOPLE MAY MAIL DONATIONS for the Joplin Polar Plunge to Special Olympics Missouri, 2914 E. 32nd St., Suite 304, Joplin, MO 64804. Donors are asked to include their names in the memo line of the checks.