Polar Plunge raises $150,000 for Special Olympics

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) – At Woodlawn Beach, location of this year’s Polar Plunge, which raises money for Special Olympics, the water was historically cold; 39 degrees.

“It hasn’t been this cold on this day since 1977. So the plungers, they know what they’re getting themselves into, and people are donating to them because they know how cold it is,” Steven Nigrelli, Polar Plunge Chairman said.

“Oh it was freezing, so cold. It was worth it though. It was awesome,” Lindsay McGahey said.

About a thousand people participated in the Polar Plunge to support the Special Olympics. Organizers expected to raise $150,000.

As usual participants dressed as popular characters as part of the fun. A boy dressed as Robin, next to his dad as Batman, said he raised $250 himself.

“It was cold,” laughed Chris Kinsley, who was dressed as Elvis. “This is probably the coldest the water’s been since I’ve done it.”

Many ran into the water in teams, including a group of 30 from National Fuel ran as ‘Polar Fuel’.

“It was really cold, but it was for a good reason, so it was OK,” one participant said.

About 30 D’Youville students participated together after raising $800. Part of their planning included a way to warm up.

“Probably huddle together and run to my car to get warm,” said student Chelsea Gadowski.

Warming up for others included choosing an alcoholic beverage.

“You got to keep yourself hydrated,” one man laughed. “Got my liquid courage,” another woman laughed.

With a cost of $500 for one Special Olympics athlete to train and compete each year this event makes a huge difference for that organization.

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