By Diane Ako
Thrill-seekers are invited to participate in Special Olympics Hawai'i’s fourth annual Polar Plunge on April 1 at Waterfront Plaza. Although plunging into a pool filled with 10 tons of ice may seem like a creative April Fool’s Day joke, participants will be freezing for a very good reason as they boldly raise money and awareness for the athletes of Special Olympics Hawai'i.
Participants can take on the challenge as an individual, form a team of friends, co-workers, or even toss their boss! All plungers are required to raise a minimum of $100 by the day of the event. In addition to the sheer thrill of experiencing sub-zero temperatures, participants are eligible for a number of awards and prizes, including an April Fool’s Day costume contest!
"All year round, our employees continually commit to community give-back programs, working alongside organizations like Special Olympics Hawai'i that provide crucial services to individuals and communities within the state," said Lisa Chun, HawaiiUSA AVP, Business & Community Development. "We work to help our members, as well as others in the communities we serve to fulfill their dreams. We build partnerships to provide athletes the opportunity to succeed on the playing field, as well as in other areas of life. This is a small step toward achieving our overall goal of giving back to the community."
If one dive into the bitter cold water is too tame of a challenge, participants can up the ante by registering to become a "Super Plunger," taking the plunge 12 times in 12 hours during Special Olympics Hawai'i's Super Plunge - Dawn to Dusk! Super Plungers must each raise a minimum of $1,000 and will receive a special prize package, including a professional massage and meals during breaks, as well as recognition at the Polar Plunge. The Super Plunge - Dawn to Dusk begins at 6 a.m. on April 1 and will conclude at 6 p.m.
For those who can't brave the ice water but still want to support Special Olympics Hawai'i the event also offers a "Too Chicken to Plunge" option, which allows supporters to raise funds for Special Olympics and participate in the day's events - from the safety of the "chicken coop" which offers preferred viewing of all the action.
"Our athletes take new challenges head-on on a daily basis so this event is a fun way for the community to come together in that same spirit and push themselves to new limits for a good cause," said Nancy Bottelo, Special Olympics Hawai'i president and CEO. "The employees at HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union have been longtime volunteers and their generous support lends itself to sports training and competition as well as health initiatives which improve quality of life for athletes across the state."
On the day of the event, the Super Plunger, team and individual who raise the most funds will be awarded a prize and have their names engraved on the Polar Plunge Perpetual Plaque. Prizes will also be awarded for the best April Fools' Day costume. The festivities will begin at 10 a.m. at Waterfront Plaza's makai lawn along Ala Moana Boulevard with food booths and entertainment.
Last year Special Olympics Hawai'i's Polar Plunge raised more than $40,000 for local athletes. Special Olympics Hawai'i provides year-round sports programs for athletes free of charge. All funds raised through the Polar Plunge will directly support the programs and cover the costs of facility rentals, equipment, food, lodging, and transportation at the State Games held three times a year.