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Friday, August 01, 2014
Southwest Louisiana ,
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Locals take the plunge for Special Olympics

Last Modified: Saturday, March 02, 2013 6:46 PM

By Jordan Gribble / Special to the American Press

For organizers of the Polar Plunge fundraiser, held Saturday at L’Auberge, the recent, sudden cold front couldn’t have come at a better time.

Twenty people braved temperatures of 41 degrees — with a wind chill of 35 — and plunged into freezing water to raise money for the Special Olympics.

Katie Bird, director of special projects for Southwest Louisiana Special Olympics, said the organization had a backup plan in case temperatures were higher than typical for March.

“We’re in Louisiana, so you never know if it’s going to be cold in March or if it’s going to be 70 degrees, so we created a backup plan with a large swimming pool filled with ice for people to jump into,” she said.

“Thankfully today God decided to give us a freezing morning, so we were able to have people jump into the lake as planned.”

Bird said the event — similar ones took place in Gonzales and Shreveport — is a unique way to raise money for the organization, saying that “it’s not every day that you get to run into freezing water for a good cause.”

The money raised at the event will be used to pay for athletes’ training, travel and uniforms, she said.

Special Olympics athlete Jennifer Jones, one of those who took the plunge, said she was happy to see people take part in the event.

“I’ll be bowling with the Special Olympics team next weekend in Baton Rouge, so it makes me feel good that we are doing this today to spread awareness,” she said. “I’m also excited because I was able to raise $300 dollars to donate.”

State police Sgt. James Anderson, who was among the first to jump into the water, said he was happy to suffer through the cold for the organization.

“This is about more than just going in the water and getting cold,” he said. “It’s about bringing awareness to this great cause, and we’re happy to do it.”

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