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Special Olympics Polar Plunge goes virtual in 2020

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Posted at 4:38 PM, Oct 28, 2020

GREAT FALLS — Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Polar Plunge in Great Falls will not be held at the Christmas Stroll this year like normal. But there’s still snow and it’s still winter, which is as good a reason as any to get cold for a good cause.

The Polar Plunge is going virtual like many Special Olympics Montana events have over the past few months.

“We are looking at doing virtual plunges this year. We’re basically encouraging plungers, not just in Great Falls but our surrounding area, to video themselves taking the plunge, and sending that into us here at the state office,” said SOMT Development Director Matt Stevens. “Then we will take those clips and air them during the Christmas Stroll like we would with a normal event.”

The Polar Plunge, one of SOMT’s biggest fundraisers of the year for the Law Enforcement Torch Run program, is currently scheduled to be held in 12 communities across the state.

Depending on county health guidelines in each location, there will be a mix of in-person and virtual events.

Veteran plungers and Special Olympics athletes Jamie Darko and Jena Lawson of Great Falls invited us along to show us how a virtual plunge is done.

“Baby, it’s cold outside,” laughed Darko.

Just like a normal plunge, dressing up is encouraged. Darko and Lawson have gone with a Hawaiian theme with leis, Hawaiian shirts, and cups filled with pineapple juice.

They’ve filled a pair of kiddie pools with snowballs and prepared to jump in them for their plunge.

“So cool in the pool,” they call out as they take a seat.

But like all SOMT events these days, safety is the top priority.

“We want people to have fun, and we want people to use their imaginations, but most of all we want people to be safe,” Stevens said. “We’re discouraging people from jumping into the rivers and lakes unless you have a trained professional there with you.”

Aside from the virtual format, fundraising will take place just like normal.

“You create your profile online and you can fundraise,” Stevens said. “The great thing about that is it allows you to reach out to people that may not live in the same city as you. This allows them to support Special Olympics and the Law Enforcement Torch Run. It’s a very similar process to most year, but the final product is going to look a little bit different.”

For more information and to register visit the Polar Plunge page on the SOMT website.