INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The wind blew snow relentlessly across the water in Eagle Creek Park Friday morning, but those who stood on the shore would not be deterred.
They arrived by bus from school districts across central Indiana. More than 600 high school students were ready to brave the elements and take the plunge.
The students were participants in the flagship fundraiser for Special Olympics Indiana, the Polar Plunge.
“If you’re going to do something really crazy like jumping in a bunch of cold water you have to be really passionate about giving back to the community, and this is one way,” remarked Jeff Mohler, President and CEO of Special Olympics Indiana.
“It really gives you hope that our future is in good hands. These youth leaders from 20 different area high schools are coming out here.”
The event has been taking place more than 20 years.
The 2020 plunge marks the second year the organization used the new two-day format. The first day is for high schools only, and the second day is open to adults and community supporters.
The weekend’s events conclude the Polar Plunge season. In total, the Special Olympics hosts 18 across the state.
The participants spent weeks raising money. The organization estimates they will finish the season with more than $900,000 raised.
All the money directly benefits the more than 18,000 Special Olympics athletes across the state.
“Since it’s at the beginning of the year, it also sets a good groundwork for what we can do the rest of the year because of finances,” said Mohler.
Mohler expects to see more than 500 adults jumping in the water on Saturday.
He will join that group for his 8th plunge. He admitted the weather they encounter will be far more enjoyable than what the students faced.
“We’ve gone in when there’s been 6 inches of ice on that water and we had to use chainsaws to cut through, but I don’t recall wind like this though.”
The adults will arrive for check in at 8 a.m. Saturday.