Community plunges into raising money for special needs By Marlo Von der AHe '20

Cheering heard from the other side of the beach, loud screams and splashes erupt. One glance over only to see at least 100 people lined up. And what for? The annual Penguin Plunge.

Every year, people spend their afternoons running into the frigid Westport, Connecticut waters to help raise awareness for the special needs programs, more specifically, Special Olympics Connecticut. The plunge took place on April 7 from 12-2 p.m. and attracted numerous people.

“I love that so many people devote their time to helping people with special needs,” Amanda Braverman ’20 said. “It was so inspirational and so fun to watch.”

In advance to this event taking place, each person or group raises thousands of dollars for the cause. In order to qualify for the plunge, you have to be at least eight years old and must raise at least $100.

A group of guys face plant into the ocean after a long sprint

According to classy.org, “[One’s] participation provides funding to support […] athletes and unified partners who participate in Special Olympics Connecticut’s year-round training and competition in 27 sports.”

Once the swim starts, the runners and watchers lineup in two straight lines to create a pathway. After being shouted at to go, the people sprint into the ocean, group by group.

“We’ve been getting about a hundred folks per plunge this year, so we’re really excited about what we had here today and [we’re] hoping we hit our fundraising goal,” Jackie Turro, the director of special events at Special Olympics Connecticut, said.

Six people line up in matching red, white and black colors, ready to take on the cold waters

Once the freezing actions take place and people are bundled in their blankets, the donation numbers are revealed. According to the Special Olympics Connecticut official website, the Westport plunge raised about half of the $50 thousand goal, just exceeding $23 thousand.

According to the special olympics Connecticut official website, the Westport plunge raised about half of the $50 thousand goal, just exceeding $23 thousand.

As for the program all these people came to support, they focus their resources on helping athletes with special needs. According to the Fairfield Patch, “Special Olympics Connecticut provides year-round sports training and competitions for over 13,000 athletes of all ages with intellectual disabilities and Unified Sports® partners - their teammates without disabilities.”

Many students, families, and coworkers participated and showed their support. “More people need to come to this event,” Catherine Sprouls ’18 said. “It raises so much money and you get to jump into freezing water with a bunch of your friends. What’s not to love?”

95.9 Fox, one of the sponsors of event, also attended the event, playing the role of the DJ.

Tags: #specialneeds #support #raisemoney #polarplunge #compobeach

Photos taken by Marlo Von der Ahe '20

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