By Ashley Burroughs BREWERTON, N.Y. (NCC NEWS)– The Special Olympics hosted its 11th annual Polar Plunge Event to support its athletes at Oneida Shores. Although it was 40 degrees outside, five hundred people participated in the event and embraced the cold waves.
“It was invigorating, a little crazy, and I was thinking oh my god I can’t believe I did this,” Kim Richer said.
This year was the first time Richer participated in this fundraiser but she didn’t do it alone. She created a team with nine of her friends and is coming back next year.
The Special Olympics raised $100,000 dollars last year and hopes to raise close to a million dollars this year.
plans on raising close to a million dollars this year.
“We never charge our athletes for anything. Venues, transportation, uniforms, you name it, they are never charged. And that is really an anomaly in amateur sports so everything we do we raise money for,” Special Olympics Spokesperson, Renee Snyder said.
The Special Olympics’ mission is to give athletes with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to:
- Develop physical fitness
- Demonstrate courage
- Experience joy
- Build friendships
In Central New York, the Special Olympics has 3,000 athletes participating in competitions. The number of athletes have doubled since last year.
Special Olympics athlete, Lindsay Mitchell, has attended the Polar Plunge for the past four years and believes sports has become a very important part of her life.
“It means for me to get physical fitness and meet new friends and get acquainted with different athletes, and I get better with my events so I get stronger with stuff,” Mitchell said.
In Central New York, the Special Olympics has 180 coaches and 130 volunteers. Every year the athletes compete in 5,000 competitions. Some of the competitions include:
- Floor hockey
- Speed Skating
This organization not only has adult and teenage athletes competing but children as well who are passionate about sports. Athletes can start participating in the Special Olympics when they are in kindergarten.
“It’s a good opportunity for them to be involved in physical activity and to set goals for themselves that they can reach. It is really awesome to be a part of that and watch them grow,” gymnastics coach Genevieve Pandori said.
The Special Olympics is located at, 6315 Fly Rd, East Syracuse, NY 13057. Athletes have already started training for their competitions. Here is the training schedule.