PLATTSBURGH — As the glorious summer weather heads into its final weeks, it’s hard to think about a freezing Lake Champlain in November.
But that’s what organizers of Special Olympics New York are looking forward to, for on Saturday, Nov. 3, the annual Freezin’ for a Reason fundraiser will take place at Plattsburgh City Beach.
“These are extremely important events for us because we rely on so many volunteers,” said Kaila Horton, director of development for Special Olympics New York, at a news conference Thursday at the beach. “... these funds we generate from this will help us greatly.”
Horton was joined by members of the area law enforcement community to drum up support and awareness for the Polar Plunge series, which included Freezin’ for a Reason and is Special Olympics New York’s major fundraiser.
The plunge will feature donors taking a dip in what is expected to be rather cool water, much to the delight of their sponsors.
“Last year, it was actually a beautiful day, but it was still fun,” said Erin McCartan, development specialist for Special Olympics New York.
The event drew about 350 people last year and raised about $42,000. This year, organizers are shooting for higher numbers.
“We’re going for the 5s this year,” McCartan said. “We would like to get 500 people and raise about $55,000.”
The event will not just feature a bunch of brave souls running into the water. A variety of family-oriented activities will get under way when registration starts at 9 a.m. There will also be a “Chicken Coop” where donors and friends can hang out and eat chicken wings and pizza and hopefully stay warm.
The actual plunge will take place at noon.
Funds from the event, which is the first of 12 plunges to be held across the state from November to April, will go towards preparing the athletes. Training, transportation and equipment are the main costs.
Last year, more than $1 million was raised by Polar Plunges across the state.
“People have been so responsive, and we greatly appreciate it and hope the numbers keep going up,” Horton said.
With the help of about 30,000 volunteers, more than 55,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities train and compete in 22 Olympic-type summer and winter sports across the state. There are three main Special Olympics games — in summer, fall and winter.
Horton said the experience has been a positive one for participants, who benefit through developing and maintaining fitness, demonstrating courage and experiencing joy.
“That’s what this program is all about, and it is so great to see,” she said.
Athletes pay no fees to compete.
To register for the event or learn more, go to www.tinyurl.com/PlattsPlunge12.
Donors can register as a team, join a team or register as an individual.
Email Joe LoTemplio: firstname.lastname@example.org