25th Polar Plunge Raises 1.1 Million!

Photo by John Martinez
Photo by John Martinez

It was Nothin’ but a Good Time as 4069 participants brrraved the winter weather and partied like it was 1993 at the 2017 Polar Plunge® Festival in Virginia Beach Feb. 3-4. Plungers and runners not only celebrated a COOL $1.1 million raised for Special Olympics Virginia, but toasted to 25 years of coolness as this year marked the silver anniversary of the event in Virginia Beach.

“At Special Olympics Virginia, our vision is to inspire the first unified generation; a generation of people who respectfully include each other in the school, in the workplace, in the community,” said Rick Jeffrey, Special Olympics Virginia President. “PLUNGING today included people with intellectual disabilities and those without; people of all ages, genders, races and religions; students and teachers; doctors and lawyers; military and law enforcement; one for all; all for one. And all so that we can unify communities in Hampton Roads and across Virginia through the transformative power of Sport, Health and Education.”

In addition to the main event, students and teachers tested the chilly waters during the Cool School Challenge, Friday, Feb. 3. Saturday morning, runners and walkers dashed and splashed (if they were brrrave enough!) during the SunTrust onUp Plunge 4 Miler and 1 Miler along the boardwalk. Before the Plunge at 2 pm, plungers and festivalgoers enjoyed live music by Teaze, the TJ Maxx Boogie Down the Boardwalk Costume Parade and Contest, vendors, a life-size sand sculpture, ice carvings, food and fun.

Special thanks to the many groups who helped us party like rock stars in Paradise City (aka Virginia Beach), including:

  • 597 students from 15 middle and high schools raised $72,000 and made the Atlantic a little cooler Friday during the sixth Cool School Challenge, presented by Walmart, WTKR News 3, WGNT and Chick-Fil-A. The top fundraising team, Plaza Middle School, not only took home some cool prizes, but several students also get to appear on WTKR’s newest show, Coast Live, this spring!
  • 516 people got cold feet for a cool cause during the Plunge 4 Miler and 1 Miler, presented by SunTrust and Virginia Beach, Saturday morning. After each race, those brrrave enough jumped into an icy above ground finish line pool!
  • More than 100 Special Olympics athletes, family and friends from the Stafford/Fredericksburg area (Team Area 11) took home the Top Team fundraising award, with more than $100,000 raised.
  • Jennifer Bonds raised $11,270 and claimed the top individual fundraising prize and some cool Polar Plunge 25th anniversary prizes!

This year’s event is presented by FM99, 106.9 THE FOX, WTKR News 3, The Wawa Foundation, Virginia Natural Gas, Booz Allen Hamilton, Walmart, WGNT, the Virginia Knights of Columbus and the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Virginia. Premier level Polar Plunge sponsors included Perfect Event Rentals, GEICO, United, PUNCH and the City of Virginia Beach.

Since 1993, more than 48,000 plungers have raised in excess of $12.7 million for Special Olympics Virginia. The inaugural Polar Plunge took place in 1993 at the Clarion Hotel when 108 plungers raised more than $11,000 for Special Olympics Virginia. 2017 marks our seventh million dollar year!