TAPintoTravels – On Saturday, Feb. 24, an anticipated 7,000 people will brave the chilly waters of the Atlantic Ocean, participating in the annual Polar Bear Plunge in Seaside Heights, all to raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics New Jersey. This Plunge is especially noteworthy because it is the 25th anniversary!
Saturday’s Plunge is expected to raise more than $1.8 million, and will take place on the beach between Blaine Avenue and Sumner Avenue, directly in front of Spicy’s Cantina (500 Boardwalk). Street closures in the area will be in effect until early afternoon.
At 1:00 p.m., all those who have donated or raised a minimum of $100 will make their way into the Atlantic, where the water temperature is expected to be in the low 40s and the air temperature is forecasted to be a high of 52°F.
"It's a wild atmosphere down at the beach with thousands of people going in the water at the same time," William Mason Elementary School teacher Scott Brennan said. "It's an overall fun event and for a good cause."
Brennan has participated in the event for five years and has grown his team, the "Frozen Clovers", each year. This year he expects his team to raise $5,500 for a cause that he supports to help benefit his cousin with special needs.
When the students at William Mason Elementary School found out about Brennan's fundraising efforts, the student council decided to hold their own fundraiser for the Special Olympics called "Plunge for a Prize!" During lunch, students who wanted to participate paid a dollar to plunge their hands into cold water to try to win a prize by grabbing a winning token. In all, the student body raised $267, which Brennan will give directly to the Special Olympics before his plunge on Saturday.
Like Brennan, many of the event participants have gone above and beyond the $100 minimum, and as of Thursday morning, Feb. 22, the highest individual fundraiser is Scott Paterson, who has raised $31,790.
The highest team is the Little Silver Crocs, led by Mike Laverty, who have raised more than $87,000. Assuming the team continues their fundraising efforts at this pace, this will be the 15th year in a row that the Little Silver Crocs will earn the highest team fundraiser title.
The Seaside Plunge is organized by the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics New Jersey, the largest grass-roots fundraising organization for Special Olympics New Jersey. Other notable supporters include the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, Wawa, NJ 101.5 and News 12 New Jersey.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run hosts many fundraising events for Special Olympics New Jersey throughout the year, including two other Polar Bear Plunges, the Lincoln Tunnel Challenge 5k, a Plane Pull, Great Coaster Race, and multiple golf outings, all of which helped to raise more than $3.9 million in the last year.
Walk-up Plunge registrants are welcome and encouraged to arrive early due to the heavy traffic (the walk-up registration fee is $125 and the registration tents will open at 9:00 a.m.). Spectators are also welcome. Street and garage parking will be available in the area.
To learn more about the 25th annual Polar Bear Plunge in Seaside Heights and see live fundraising progress, visit here.
If you need proof of your exploit, photos will be available at this link and on all of the NJ Polar Plunge social media channels.
ABOUT SPECIAL OLYMPICS NEW JERSEY:
For the past 50 years, Special Olympics New Jersey has provided year-round sports training and athletic competition in 24 Olympic-type sports for more than 25,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities, completely free of charge, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. Visit www.sonj.org for more information.
ABOUT THE LAW ENFORCEMENT TORCH RUN:
The Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) is part of an international campaign for Special Olympics coordinated and managed by all divisions of Law Enforcement officers and officials from throughout the world whose mission is to raise dollars and awareness of the Special Olympics movement worldwide. The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics New Jersey has been recognized for many years as one of the top grassroots fundraising organizations for Special Olympics worldwide. In 2016, the LETR for Special Olympics New Jersey raised more than $3.7 million.