60 contestants freeze the day in Special Olympics Polar Plunge

Taylor Warren

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The Coyote Softball Team plunges on Jan. 30. Wichita Falls High School held a competition between teachers and whichever teacher had the most money put in their bucket had to jump. Coach Bingham "won" and the team decided to jump with their coach because they thought it would be a good bonding experience. Photo by Gabriella Solis

The Coyote Softball Team plunges on Jan. 30. Wichita Falls High School held a competition between teachers and whichever teacher had the most money put in their bucket had to jump. Coach Bingham “won” and the team decided to jump with their coach because they thought it would be a good bonding experience. Photo by Gabriella Solis

Braving the 61 degree weather to freeze the day, various community organizations and individual participants took the Polar Plunge at the campus Wellness Center in the Special Olympics 8th annual fundraiser on Saturday, Jan. 30.

“Polar Plunge is one of our big fundraising events for Special Olympics,” Mike Strickland, director of North Texas Area 9 Special Olympics, said. “The money we raise goes to fund our athletes along with renting facilities, competitions and scholarships.”

In exchange for plunging, contestants were asked to raise at least $60 from family, friends or co-workers and then wear their favorite costume to plunge in.

“We all have kids, so we came as team Frozen,” Marci Gilbert, from United Regional Surgery department, said. Gilbert dressed as Olaf from the movie.

Hearing so much about the event from the previous year, members of Wichita Falls Old High Peer Assisted Leadership service (PALs) organization participated.

“To raise money, we used teachers and faculty members faces and placed them on jars. During lunch, we had a table set up and students could put money in a jar for who they wanted to see take the plunge with us,” senior Peer Assisted Leadership member, Annka Gribben, said. “We raised $1,000 for the event.”

The goal set for the event was $6,000.

“Money collected from participants was $6,500, not including our souvenir sales,” Strickland said. “It was a great turnout this year.”

CONTESTANTS REACTION

  • “We did it last year and had a lot of fun,” Amanda Crow, from United Regional Surgery department, said. Crow was on team Frozen and dressed as Elsa. “We have a community service group at work and try to find different events to volunteer at. We have a special place to support Special Olympics, so we try to participate in their volunteering events,” Crow said.
  • “Special Olympics is one of the many organizations we support throughout the year,” Tagan Couch, member of Junior and Senior Forum of Wichita Falls, said. “We raised $1,600 for Polar Plunge.”
  • “The kids put money in a jar at school and I lost, so I had to jump,” Chelsey Alsup, Spanish teacher at Rider High school, said. “The school raised $700 through our fundraising event. The water was cold and I couldn’t keep my costume on when trying to swim.”
  • “This was my 6th year to attend and individually I raised $865,” Mary Ramsey said. “I can’t participate in swimming due to sickness, but I walked down the side of the pool. My daughter is a Special Olympian and I coach almost every event the Graham, Texas team competes in. This event helps raise money so we don’t have to depend on other areas to keep us afloat.”
  • “There was a sponsorhip in the Coach Bingham and Coach Huse foundation to make us take the plunge,” Courtney Bingham, Wichita Falls Old High softball coach, said. “Since I had to jump, I had my softball team do it as well as part of community service event. It was freezing cold, but definitely fun.”

POLAR PLUNGE AWARDS

Silver Plunge Award: Best Costume/Theme – United Regional Surgery department: Team Frozen

Top Team Fundraiser Award – Junior and Senior Forum of Wichita Falls ($1,557 raised)

Top Individual Award – Mary Ramsey ($865 raised)

 

 

 

 

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