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Freezin’ For A Reason: Polar Plunge benefits the Special Olympics

The seventh annual Buffalo Polar Plunge will take place this year at the Woodlawn Beach State Park on Dec. 7 in the town of Hamburg. The Polar Plunge is a fundraising event for Special Olympics New York, which helps more than 60,000 New Yorkers with intellectual disabilities to participate in sporting events.

The Buffalo Polar Plunge began seven years ago at Beaver Island State Park. The Polar Plunge is part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, that movement’s largest grassroots fundraiser.

During its first year, the Polar Plunge’s approximately 100 entrants raised more than $16,000. Last year, during the second event, held at Woodlawn Beach, more than 1,200 participants took the plunge; that event raised more than $145,000 for SONY.

This year organizers and sponsors said that they are expecting approximately 1,500 polar plungers and another 1,000 spectators.

Participants will take a dip into Lake Erie, utilizing all style of dress and getup. Many don costumes of all kinds, shedding their garb as they approach the water. “Perhaps 95 percent of the swimmers wear costumes,” said Amy Nevesux, SONY director of development. “However, less is more when you enter the water,” she added. “It’s easier to get out of fewer wet clothes and back into dry ones.”

Nevesux added that, in this endeavor, time is of the essence. Some participants quickly dash in and out of the water, while others wade in slowly. A few dive, headfirst, into the water.

Those who do not want to brave the cold may sponsor an individual or a team, or cheer on the participants.

The Special Olympics’ stated mission is to contribute to the development of the physical and social skills of people with intellectual disabilities.

SONY was organized in 1969 and has grown to become one of the largest sports programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities in the United States. SONY, which contains nearly 62,000 athletes, is the largest program of its kind in the country and the sixth largest in the world.

The Dec. 7 event will include a heated tent, a disc jockey and food and drinks, including coffee, hot chocolate, clam chowder, hot dogs and pizza.

To register online or to learn more about the Polar Plunge, visit

The festivities will begin with registration, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Dec. 7. The plunge will begin at 2.

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