Onslow Beach will be covered with brave souls preparing to dive into the chilly ocean this weekend in hopes of raising more than $20,000 for Special Olympics.
The annual Polar Plunge is Saturday and, with temperatures forecasted to be in the upper 60s, should draw a crowd, local coordinator for Special Olympics Onslow County Dawn McCullen said.
“We are hoping this is going to be the biggest one ever,” she said. “The weather is going to be good, which is the deciding factor for a lot of people.
“I don’t blame them. I’m not big on the cold factor either.”
The Polar Plunge is one of the biggest fundraisers annually for the local Special Olympics, McCullen said, raising nearly half of the funds the program needs for the year.
This year’s goal is $20,000, which will help pay for athletes’ needs year round, including their training facilities that a lot of time have to be rented, she said.
“The money raised will be used to fund the spring games, the fall games and the state level games they attend,” McCullen said. “It also helps pay for the athletes’ uniforms, the cost venues, travel and food and housing when they travel to those competitions. It gets expensive when you’re using a pool once a week for two hours.”
Saturday’s big splash happens at 11 a.m., but people are encouraged to come out to Onslow Beach and dance to DJ Finesse Donna Brown before the plunge.
WITN TV 7 Chief Meteorologist Matt Engelbrecht will emcee the event, McCullen said.
“The athletes will be out there mixing and mingling with the people, letting them know what they like about Special Olympics,” she said. “We will also have a lot of volunteers from Wounded Warriors and Naval Hospital-Camp Lejeune and the Navy Corpsman.”
McCullen said the staple costume contest will be happening again this year, as well as a children’s sandcastle contest and a few new ones, to spice things up.
The costume contest is always a hit, McCullen said, with plungers and supporters alike getting creative with costumes like Titanic and iceberg.
Plungers will be able to warm up with hot chocolate and donuts donated by Dunkin’ Donuts, McCullen said.
“We’re looking forward to everyone coming out,” she said. “It is a great event and a lot of fun.”
Because the event is on Camp Lejeune, anyone attending without a DoD issued ID card must enter base via the main gate, and every person older than 16 must have a form of ID identifying them. Vehicles must also have proof of insurance and registration in order to get a visitor’s pass for the day.
Polar Plunge registration fees are $25 per individual; $20 for students in elementary, middle or high school; and $20 per person for teams of four or more. Sign up at firstgiving.com/sonc/onslowplunge.
For those who would rather stay dry, donations can also be made at the website.
Published January 11, 2016