BLACKSBURG, Va. – In less than three weeks, the 10 News team and people from across Southwest Virginia will willingly take an icy dip into the New River!
It is for the annual Special Olympics Polar Plunge, which returns in person after virtual activities in 2021 because of COVID-19 restrictions.
This year’s theme says it all: participants are ready to “go all in” for the Plunge.
“We are really excited to be back at the river,” said Nancy Morehouse, Southwest Region Director for Special Olympics Virginia.
The hundreds of athletes, volunteers, and community members getting ready for the 2022 New River Polar Plunge share that excitement, with the event scheduled for Saturday, February 26 at Bisset Park in Radford.
“We’re really excited to see the teams get back together and really create that energy around all the excitement they’ve done throughout the weeks to raise money for Special Olympics,” Morehouse said.
The New River Polar Plunge is the largest fundraiser for Special Olympics in Southwest Virginia. The money supports local programs that offer leadership, health and athletic opportunities for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
“All of these sports are things that bring our athletes together with the community and each other,” Morehouse said. “These are really important things in the core of our mission, using Special Olympics sports as a vehicle to promote inclusive communities.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it challenging for athletes, coaches and volunteers to stay active together, but virtual activities, individual sports challenges and sports that can be played safely in small groups have helped keep the spirit of competition and camaraderie alive.
“We know in our community the pandemic has taken a toll on a lot of people, but in particular, our athletes because they are not able to connect in their usual ways or have two or three sports opportunities in a week to look forward to,” Morehouse said.
As COVID restrictions ease, more Special Olympics sports programs are becoming available, and many athletes are not only looking forward to that but also being freezin’ for a reason in support of Special Olympics.
“I think our athletes are more excited than ever to really get a lot of people involved in the Plunge,” Morehouse said.
Head to the 2022 New River Polar Plunge page to sign up for the plunge or donate.