News: 7th annual Polar Plunge supports Special Olympics
Story by Lance Cpl. Justin Rodriguez
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - More than 450 participants were Freezin’ for a Reason at the 7th annual Special Olympics of Onslow County Polar Plunge at Onslow Beach aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Jan. 11.
Participants raised more than $27,000 to support more than 900 Special Olympics athletes in Onslow County.
SOOC provides year-round sports training and competition for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness.
“We’re truly grateful for the support the Camp Lejeune community gives to us,” said Dora Gaskin, event and public relations coordinator with SOOC. “Every year, the event reminds me of the family we have, and it’s awesome. This program couldn’t do it without the support of the military and Onslow County.”
Individual Plunge participants collected a minimum of $25 in pledges, while businesses and organizations registered as a team, raised between $200 to $400 each, depending on the team’s size. Anyone not plunging was invited to make a pledge to the ones who plunged.
As patrons donned costumes ranging from '70s dancers, superheroes, toilet plungers and more, they lined the beach for a costume contest prior to the freezing plunge. Best female costume winner was Abigail Hall who dressed as Super Mario. A man dressed as a Power Ranger won best male costume. The award for best team costume went to Disco and the Divas.
The contests before the plunge were designed to keep the children and family members entertained before the plunge, said Gaskin.
The water was a record-setting 48 degrees for the plunge, said Skip Waters, WCTI News Channel 12 chief meteorologist.
“Taking this plunge is for a great cause,” said Jennifer Jones, retired gunnery sergeant and participant who traveled from Georgia. “These athletes ask for nothing. They don’t experience the same life we do. Coming back to this base brings back memories from when I was an active-duty Marine. It reminds me the military community is a big family. I’m proud of being someone committed to this event and community.”
The Polar Plunge, SOOC’s primary fundraiser has raised more than $100,000 since the plunge’s inception.
“Without the plunge, these athletes’ resources would be very limited,” said Dawn McCullen, local coordinator with SOOC. “Not only does it raise money, the plunge brings the community together and reminds us of the family we have.”
As plungers lined up on the beach, Camp Lejeune leaders held hands with Special Olympics athletes to show support.
“The plunge affects me personally, because I have a son with disabilities,” said Gaskin. “It gives me an amazing feeling knowing I have the support of almost 500 people. There’s no way we’d be able to do this without the support of the military and Onslow County community. I’m proud of the amount of people who decided to take the time to plunge.”
For more information on the Special Olympics of Onslow County, visit www.sonconslow.org.
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