The Special Olympics Kansas brought out the “brrravery” of about 175 Kansas State students and Manhattan community members for an “unbearable” event: The Polar Plunge in the parking lot of Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Friday.
This was the first year the plunge was held at the stadium. The plunge previously took place at Tuttle Creek, said Krystin Guggisberg, regional director of Special Olympics Kansas.
“In years past we had to pick away at ice to get in there, but I don’t know if we would have had that problem this year,” Guggisberg said.
While Polar Plunge Kansas occurs during winter to take advantage of the icy water, this year’s plunge fell on a 60 F evening.
“The idea behind the plunge is that it’s supposed to get us out of our comfort zone by plunging us into cold water,” Guggisberg said.
“Plungers” who fundraised or donated a minimum of $50 did not dive into icy water, but rather water in an above-ground pool with a temperature of 43 F. At past Polar Plunge Kansas events, the water averaged 30-34 F.
“The goal of this is to be a fundraiser for Special Olympics Kansas,” Guggisberg said. “Money raised from this will go toward competitions, nutrition and health screenings for Special Olympics.”
Katie Proctor, senior in athletic training, said the cold water was bearable knowing it was for a good cause.
“The cold water isn’t too big of a deal,” Proctor said. “I’ve been plunging for four years and work with Special Olympics, so I wanted to raise money for them.”
Jesse Crawford, junior in kinesiology, said that while the water may not have been freezing, it was still cold.
“It still felt so good to be jumping in for such a good cause like Special Olympics,” Crawford said.
Proctor and Crawford are both part of team “Slippery When Wet,” the official plunging team of the Manhattan Special Olympics.
The team of 42 people consisted of coaches, family members, supporters, fans and athletes, according to their website. Slippery When Wet was the largest team participating in the Manhattan Polar Plunge and was the highest-fundraising team.
According to Slippery When Wet’s website, the team raised $3,627.51 for Special Olympics Kansas.
Guggisberg said the Polar Plunge is about more than raising funds: it is also about pushing limits, just as those with disabilities do during the Special Olympics.
“Our athletes — those with intellectual disabilities — they are constantly in an environment that pushes their limits,” Guggisberg said. “They are kind of the fish out of the water in other environments, so this is our chance to be the fish out of water by getting into the cold water.”