Special Olympics Polar Plunge to chill in Aurora

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AURORA | Prepare to take the plunge, Aurora.

The largest one-day fundraiser of the year for Special Olympics Colorado —the Polar Plunge — takes place in the city on Feb. 23, when more than 1,000 people are expected to take a chilly dip in the Aurora Reservoir to raise money for an organization that runs the competition and training of more than 12,000 athletes with intellectual
disabilities.

Polar Plungers hit the water at Chatfield Reservoir during the 2012 Special Olympics Colorado Polar Plunge event. (Special Olympics Colorado/Kent Meireis)
Polar Plungers hit the water at Chatfield Reservoir during the 2012 Special Olympics Colorado Polar Plunge event. (Special Olympics Colorado/Kent Meireis)

The Chatfield Reservoir has been home to the Polar Plunge for the last four years, but the event needed a new home because of its size. The 1.2 square-mile Aurora Reservoir provides plenty of room to accommodate all the plungers and an adjacent space — the Arapahoe Park horse track — for the event’s after party.

“We’ve outgrown the Chatfield Reservoir and we felt there was a great opportunity to grow the Plunge and get new participants,” said Amy Turner, Vice President of Marketing & Corporate Partnership for Special Olympics Colorado. “It’s in the early stages, but we’re very pleased with the move to Aurora. We plan for this to be our flagship.”

With no federal or state funding, Special Olympics Colorado relies on its fundraising events to support its programs for intellectually disabled adults and children. The organization —which has 6,600 active volunteers around the state according to Turner — runs 22 sports that span four seasons over a calendar year and offers six state championship events.

Two smaller plunges took place at Prospect Lake in Colorado Springs on Feb. 2, which raised $26,000 for the organization, and last weekend at the Boulder Reservoir, but the Aurora Reservoir event is expected to be the biggest event. Last year’s three events raised $210,000 according to Turner.

The Colorado Rapids, Colorado Mammoth, Sports Radio 104.3 The Fan — which will provide morning host Joel Klatt as the event’s emcee —and 9NEWS all have teams, which are open for members of the public to join. The first 20 Plungers to register online for any of the four teams and raise $150 through the Plunge website will receive a $50 cash coupon from Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Besides raising money for a good cause, Plungers like to have fun at the event.

Many come clad in elaborate costumes, much like runners do at the annual Bolder Boulder running event on Memorial Day.

The Plunge begins at 1 p.m. and the after party at Arapahoe Park runs between 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Several Aurora restaurants, including The Rock, will provide food for the after party. People not plunging can attend the after party for a suggested donation of $5.

For more information or to register, visit specialolympicsco.org