A Wave of Inclusion: Polar Plunge Nears $1.2 Million

It was rosy cheeks, cold toes and cool costumes as far as the eye could see this weekend in Virginia Beach as 3,734 participants teamed up to brrrave the wave at the 2018 Polar Plunge® Festival, Feb. 2-3. Plungers and runners not only celebrated an icy $1.185 million raised – and counting! – for Special Olympics Virginia, but also the beginning of the second quarter-century of the event in Virginia Beach.

“No longer is it enough to provide a place for people of all abilities to come together through sport. It is time to demand uncompromising inclusion— in school, employment, healthcare and social activities like the Polar Plunge Fest,” said Rick Jeffrey, Special Olympics Virginia President. “For our inclusion revolution to succeed, we need more rebels, heroes and fighters just like the participants who helped us raise more than a million dollars this weekend.”

In addition to the main event, students and teachers tested the chilly waters during the Cool School Challenge, Friday, Feb. 2. Saturday morning, runners and walkers dashed and splashed (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 Party of Four, a new Crafted Plunge Marketplace featuring local artisans, 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 teamed up for the coolest event of 2018:

  • 672 students from 15 middle and high schools raised $79,662 and made the Atlantic a little cooler Friday during the seventh 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, 435 people got cold feet for a cool cause during the Plunge 4 Miler and 1 Miler, presented by SunTrust. After each race, those brrrave enough jumped into an icy above ground finish line pool!
  • More than 85 Special Olympics athletes, family and friends from the Fredericksburg/Stafford area (Team Area 11) took home the Top Team fundraising award, with more than $63,738 raised.
  • Kevin Vogt raised $11,804 and claimed the top individual fundraising prize.

This year’s event was presented by FM99, 106.9 THE FOX, WTKR News 3, 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 Polar Plunge sponsors included Perfect Event Rentals, GEICO, Booz Allen Hamilton, PUNCH, Chick-Fil-A and the City of Virginia Beach.

Since 1993, more than 51,000 plungers have raised in excess of $13.8 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. 2018 marks our eighth million dollar year!