WESTFIELD – For the first time, the Law Enforcement Torch Run and local law enforcement will team up with the Cyclonauts Bicycle Club to bring a Polar Plunge to Hampton Ponds in Westfield on March 7 at 10 a.m. to benefit the Massachusetts Special Olympics.
Stephanie Esposito, the event’s organizer, said that the Polar Plunge is a Special Olympics trademarked event and one of the biggest ways they raise money throughout the year. She added that this is the first Plunge in the Pioneer Valley in several years.
“We do Polar Plunges all over the world and hold dozens across the state but this is the first time in a long time that we’re bringing one to the Pioneer Valley,” she said, “In years past we’ve held them in Wilbraham and Ludlow before bringing this one to Westfield.”
Esposito explained that one of the driving forces behind the event is the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which is subsequently one of the biggest driving forces for fundraising and spreading awareness about the Special Olympics around the world. “In Massachusetts alone we expect the Law Enforcement Torch Run to raise about $700,000 for the Special Olympics this year.”
She added that some of the closest partners for the Torch Run in the Pioneer Valley include the Agawam and West Springfield Police departments.
In order to bring a plunge back to the Pioneer Valley, she said that the Law Enforcement Torch Run is working closely with the Cyclonauts, a cycling group based in the Springfield area. She said, “It made sense for us to team up with the Cyclonauts, they were looking for a way to celebrate the Special Olympics and for a unique way to have fun in the winter.”
Esposito added that the Polar Plunge is a unique event in the way that it brings the entire community together.
“It’s a unique fundraising event, it brings together schools, law enforcement and our athletes and it’s a great way to have fun in the winter and celebrate inclusivity in our communities,” she said.
While registration is free, Esposito said that participants have to raise $100 as an individual or a team to take part in the Plunge. She added that interested donors can send in checks or donate online on the Polar Plunge’s website using a credit or debit card. At the time of publication the Plunge raised $3,612 towards its $5,000 goal.
In addition to the $100 benchmark, Esposito added that there are fundraising incentives from $250 to $5,000 and they will be giving out awards and celebrating the fundraisers that hit those different marks.
The Plunge is just the tip of the iceberg for the event and Esposito said attendees can look forward to a DJ, warm food and beverages.
“Right now our local law enforcement partners and the Cyclonauts are contacting local businesses for food and beverage donations for the event.”
She added that they expect 100 attendees between the plungers and spectators.
Esposito said that throughout the day they will be giving out awards for the most money raised by an individual, most raised by a team, best costume, and the Golden Plunger Award.
“The Golden Plunger will go to the most spirited plunger and that means they are cheerful, enthusiastic and best represent our mission,” she said.
“The Massachusetts Special Olympics could not operate without our community partners, they are the backbone in creating inclusive communities and pushing our mission,” Esposito added.
Interested plungers can register or make a donation online at https://specialolympicsma.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=588