OSWEGO, NY – When the temperature hits 90 in July and August, it’s not uncommon to see 100 people dash into Lake Ontario.
However, when it’s November, the temperature is barely 40 and a brisk northerly wind makes it fell like 30 degrees you better have a very good reason to jump in the lake.
On Saturday, close to 20 teams and more than 100 people from all around the Port City and SUNY Oswego took part in the first-ever Oswego Polar Plunge for Special Olympics New York.
“This is our first year plunging in Oswego. Our goal is to raise $20,000 to support the athletes of Special Olympics,” explained Tysha Martin.
The plunge was one of a dozen happening around the state on Saturday.
Plungers who raised $100 received a Polar Plunge sweatshirt.
“We heard about this and thought it would be really cool to take part,” said Amy Griffin of Albany. “This is our last year here (at SUNY Oswego) and we wanted to do something memorable. Besides it’s for a very good cause!”
“I don’t think it will be too bad,” added Anthony Capella of Baldwinsville. “I heard the water is ‘warm for this time of year.’”
“We found out about this a bit late, so we didn’t have a lot of time to raise a lot of funds,” Griffin said.
They have raised more than $115, she added, thanks to their friends and family.
A case of cold feet?
“We left after signing in to go get coffee and we almost didn’t come back,” Griffin admitted.
Did they take any practice plunges to prepare themselves?
“No, we’re just going to go for it,” Capella said. “We heard that the water temperature is warmer than the air; so we’re going to find out real soon.”
Oswego County Legislator Jacob Mulcahey judged the participants’ costumes.
“We’re giving out awards for best costumes (individual and team) and for oldest and youngest plungers. But first I just want to say, it’s really cold out here and all you people that are swimming are crazy,” he quipped.
Mayor Tom Gillen thanked all the plungers for turning out to support the Special Olympics program.
“It’s great to see our community come together for an event like this,” he said. “We’ve got some really great special Olympians who are going to represent our city. Thank you to everyone helping raise money for Special Olympics – you’re freezing for a reason!”
An honor guard made up of representatives of the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office, US Coast Guard Oswego Station, Oswego City Police and Oswego Fire Department lead a large contingent of Special Olympians to the water at Wright’s Landing. One of them carryied the Olympic Torch.
They were followed by around 100 polar plungers, in various stages of dress.
One young lady wearing a bikini explained that she had brought “a very big towel and warm, dry, clothes” (emphasis on the word ‘dry’) to put on after her quick dip in the lake.
“It wasn’t really too bad,” said Dick Drosse as he exited the water. “My toes actually go the coldest. If you stay in too long, you start to get numb.”
“It was cold. Wicked cold,” according to Oswego Fire Chief Jeff McCrobie. “But it’s worth it; it’s for a real good cause.”
“I don’t know what the grand total is yet, but we’re awfully close,” Martin said. “This is a great turnout for our very first event. I want to say thank you to all our sponsors and everyone who was brave enough to take the plunge for Special Olympics!”
Special Olympics is the largest amateur sports organization in the world.
With more than 52,000 athletes, Special Olympics New York is the largest chapter in North America and the sixth largest chapter in the world.
Special Olympics New York athletes train and compete year-round in 22 sports, the Young Athletes Program and the Motor Activities Training Program – at no cost to the athlete, their families or their caregivers.
For information, contact Martin at 585-586-7400 ext. 109 or [email protected]
More information can also be found on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/OswegoPolarPlungeForSpecialOlympics