The Special Olympics has been a part of our country’s history for more than six decades giving children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities year-round training and activities to be a part of.
In an effort to help raise money and awareness for the organization the city of Williston took a little dive into the deep end.
Special Olympics North Dakota Director of Development Victor Meza said, “Just having this event is huge for us.”
The event that Meza is referring to is the Polar Plunge. This is an annual fundraiser organized by North Dakota Law Enforcement as part of their year-round Law Enforcement Torch Run to raise awareness and funds to benefit the Special Olympics.
Highway Patrol Sergeant Adrian Martinez is the man behind Williston’s event.
“We have bounce houses, we have a dunk tank, we have live music, free food, free drinks,” Martinez said.
While just about anything free makes for a good time, the true entertainment and money-making come from the Polar Plunge itself.
Martinez says they’ve raised upwards of $20,000 from roughly 50 plungers paying to dive into the 40-degree water.
“This is kind of our first time doing it in a long time in Williston and I was kind of just informed by the Special Olympics of North Dakota that we’ve probably raised the most money this year for all of the Polar Plunges here in the state of North Dakota,” he said.
Meza says the pandemic caused a lot of Special Olympics North Dakota fundraising events to be canceled over the last year, so seeing the turnout at the Williston event is more than the organization could ever ask for.
“Special Olympics is important to the people we serve in North Dakota. Through COVID, a lot of our athletes didn’t get to leave their houses, didn’t get to leave their group homes, and just showing that the community is behind them and just having this out here is great,” Meza said.
“This Community has been wonderful. Any event that we’ve tried to put on to try and raise money and awareness for any sort of topic, this Community has just gone above and beyond and I couldn’t be more than thankful for the people around this community,” Martinez said.
The national event is typically held during the winter months, so If you’re brave enough to jump into freezing water, for a good cause of course, the help is always needed.
Meza says the next Polar Plunge will be held in Bismarck at the Pier.