SOUTHERN CO. — Some local swimmers are making a splash for Special Olympics and the Polar Plunge happening next Saturday, April 24. Fund-raising from next weekend's event will support the nearly 6,000 Special Olympic athletes in the Pikes Peak Region.
One of the teams that will benefit from the plunge is the local swimming team. They practice twice a week at the Manitou Springs Pool and Fitness Center and there are about 100 or so swimmers in our area whose season just started.
Some of the swimmers told News they're taking the plunge next weekend.
"I did it when I first started Special Olympics and I went into the water. I'm excited because this is going to be my second time doing it, and I like doing it because I like to get out of the house and see my friends," said Aaliyah Ortiz, a 16-year-old who's been a special Olympic athlete for four years.
"I just know you dive into really cold water and it's freezing. That's why its called a polar plunge, because it feels like your a polar bear," said Charlotte Baker 11 years old.
Special Olympics is a nonprofit that provides healthy activities for athletes with intellectual disabilities or physical disabilities at no cost to them or their families. Anyone above the age of eight can participate.
Funds raised at the plunge will help provide equipment and pay for scheduled practiced and upcoming competitions.
There about 15,000 special Olympic athletes in Colorado. The organization offers 22 sports including track and field, power lifting, gymnastics, soccer, skiing, basketball and more.
All money raised from next weekend's plunge will stay in the region, from Monument to the southern stat border. According to the organization, it cost about $200 for one athlete to participate in three sports a year.
There are several ways to participate in next weekend's Polar Plunge at UCHealth Park. You can plunge in person, plunge virtually, run a 5k, or stay home and donate to the cause. In-person plunges have been modified to keep COVID-19 restrictions in mind.
The organization's goal is to raise nearly $430,000. When this article was written, they've raised about $370,000.
For more information about the polar plunge, click here.