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3,498 Chill Seekers Raise Record-Breaking $1.235 Million at Polar Plunge

It was rosy cheeks, cold toes and cool costumes as far as the eye could see this weekend in Virginia Beach as 3,498 participants teamed up to brrrave the chilly Atlantic at the 2019 Polar Plunge® Festival, Feb. 1-2. Plungers and runners not only celebrated a record-breaking $1.235 million raised – the most ever and counting! – for Special Olympics Virginia, but also the event’s ninth million dollar year!

“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 TEAM. 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. 1. Saturday morning, runners and walkers dashed and double dipped (if they were brrrave enough!) during the SunTrust 4 Miler and 1 Miler along the boardwalk. Before the Plunge at 2 pm, plungers and festivalgoers enjoyed live music by Kaboombox, the T.J.Maxx Boardwalk Boogie Costume Parade and Contest, vendors, a life-size sand sculpture, ice carvings, food and fun.

Special thanks to the many groups who helped us team up for the coolest event of 2019:

  • 339 students from 20 middle and high schools raised $57,821 and made the Atlantic a little cooler Friday during the ninth Cool School Challenge, presented by Walmart. The top fundraising team, Plaza Middle School, not only took home some cool prizes, but several students also get to appear on WTKR’s morning show, Coast Live, this spring!
  • Saturday morning, 517 people got cold feet for a cool cause during the Plunge 4 Miler and 1 Miler, presented by SunTrust. Plus, those brrrave enough took their first icy dip at noon during our inaugural Double Dip Dare (all runners who also registered to Plunge and raised the $100 minimum were invited to make a mad dash into the Atlantic at noon, and then be the coolest people on the beach when they double dipped at 2 pm as a part of the main Plunge).
  • The Ice-Aholics team took home the Top Team fundraising award, with more than $77,091 raised.
  • Larry Page raised $41,241 and claimed the top individual fundraising prize and some cool Polar Plunge swag!

This year’s event is presented by FM99, 106.9 THE FOX, WTKR News3, The Wawa Foundation, Virginia Natural Gas, Walmart, WGNT, the Virginia Knights of Columbus and the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Virginia. Premier level partners include Booz Allen Hamilton, PUNCH, Perfect Event Rentals, the City of Virginia Beach and GEICO.

Since 1993, more than 53,000 plungers have raised in excess of $15 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.

This event is one of five Polar Plunge® Festivals in Virginia. In addition to the Virginia Beach event, plunges also will take place in the New River Valley and Northern VA on Saturday, Feb 23; and our first Solar Plunge is set for June 8 in Richmond during our largest annual competition, Summer Games. Plungers kicked things off Jan. 23 in Fairfax at a brand new location (the Mosaic District); this plunge raised $33,700.