ROANOKE, Va. – The upcoming Special Olympics Polar Plunge will give people across Southwest Virginia the chance to “Go For the Cold” in the New River in Radford to help Special Olympics athletes “Go For the Gold” year-round.
Money raised from the annual Plunge supports the programs and competitions of Special Olympics Virginia. It has given athletes, including Joseph Koehler of Roanoke, opportunities both on and off the field.
The awards and accolades Joseph has earned on the track and on the bocce ball court are enough to fill his parents’ home. Gold, silver, and bronze proof of the impact Special Olympics has had in Joseph’s life from a young age.
When asked how long has he been involved with Special Olympics, Joseph responded, “[Since] when I was in Oak Grove Elementary, when I was a little boy.”
Special Olympics has given Joseph the chance to travel the state and the country. Most recently he competed at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, FL as a member of Team Virginia. He won a silver medal and two fourth-place medals in bocce ball.
For the Koehlers, Special Olympics is a family affair. Joseph’s brother David has helped coach Joseph and volunteered to run a 2021 softball clinic. His Mom is often the team photographer, snapping away at the athletes in action. His Dad has a polar bear friend, named “P.B. Plunger”, who loves the ice cold fun of the annual Polar Plunge.
When asked if he planned to participate in the Plunge, Joseph said, “I don’t usually get in the cold water.” He added, “I get chilly in there.”
He said he will be cheering everybody on. Joseph knows how much he enjoys going for the gold in competition, and knows it will be just as much fun watching others “Go For the Cold” in support of Special Olympics Virginia.
The 2023 New River Polar Plunge will take place Saturday, February 25 at Bisset Park in Radford. Click here to sign up to take the Plunge or make a donation.