By Wil Crews
The ninth annual Auburn Polar Plunge to support the Lee County Special Olympics will be held on Saturday, Jan 30, at the City of Auburn’s Samford Pool beginning at 9 a.m.
The goal of the annual Polar Plunge is to raise financial support for the brave athletes of the Lee County Special Olympics.
This year’s event will be different from years past. Instead of gathering for one collective plunge, and to adhere to social distancing standards, plungers will register for a specific 30-minute time slots and will only be allowed inside the pool for their specific time. To ensure as much safety as possible, masks will be required prior to jumping in the pool.
“With COVID, we had to break everybody up into waves because we can only have a certain amount of people inside the pool, on the deck, at one time,” said Lee County Special Olympics director Elizabeth Kaufman.
Plungers can register for free, online at campscui.active.com/orgs/CityofAuburn. Pre-registration for the event is required.
“We just ask that people fundraise, try to get sponsors from local businesses, get donations from friends and family and they, you know, just kind of keep track of that and whatever they raise they bring with them the day of the event,” Kaufman said. “They can raise any amount; we don’t have a minimum or maximum, so whatever you are able to raise we are super grateful for.”
Kaufman said all the money raised will go directly to uniforms, equipment and travel cost for the Lee County Special Olympics. And there will be prizes for people who raise the most money. Last year’s eighth annual Polar Plunge had about 80 plungers and raised over $10,000 and the goal this year is to surpass that.
The theme this year is “Best and Worst of 2020,” and plungers are encouraged to be as creative as they want when dressing up. Additionally, there will be an after party at Halftime in Auburn – all plungers will receive a discount, and a portion of proceeds will be donated to the Lee County Special Olympics.
“With breaking it into waves and not being able to have everybody on the deck at once, we realized we really couldn’t do a costume contest,” Kaufman said. “Instead of a costume contest, we thought it would be really fun to still have a theme and encourage people to dress up … I mean, costumes are like half the fun. So many things happened in 2020 that there is like endless numbers of costumes that you could come up with.”
It is well understood that jumping into a frigid pool in the dead of winter may not sound appealing to everyone. But it’s for a worthy cause and a great way to support a special part of the community.
“We have over 300 athletes right here in Lee County,” Kaufman said. “All the dollars raised stay with our local athletes. So you are really giving back to your community and supporting your local community members in their endeavors and it’s something they really benefit from and have grown up enjoying. Even if you don’t know someone who has a special need, there are a lot of people in your community that benefit from this fundraiser.”