Two Teachers and one student take the plunge to raise money for Special Olympics

Miss+Lombardi+rocks+her+polar+bear+hat+while+Miss+Simkovich+wears+her+70s+wig+as+they+prepare+to+plunge+into+the+37+degree+waters+of+Seaside+Heights.+

Photo Credit: Brianna Kelly

Miss Lombardi rocks her polar bear hat while Miss Simkovich wears her 70’s wig as they prepare to plunge into the 37 degree waters of Seaside Heights.

On February 22nd, participants of the Polar Bear Plunge braved the cold water to raise money for the Special Olympics in Seaside Heights, New Jersey and reached their goal of one million dollars.

The Special Olympics is an organization that hosts athletic competitions for both children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

To show their support for the cause, people dressed in costumes and carried flags as they jumped into the 37 degree water. There were more than 40,000 spectators lined up along the boardwalk to watch as the teams went into the water. The warmer weather was a shock to the participants at this year’s event.

Last year, due to Hurricane Sandy, they did not have the event at Seaside like they had done for many years; instead, it was held in Long Branch. There was some disappointment due to that, but with a record number of people participating and watching the event this year, things have turned around.

“I thought it was a really good cause so I decided to do it. It was fun way to get people together””

— Sophia Figueroa, 11th Grader

Miss Kristin Lombardi, Art Teacher at Colonia and 3rd year Plunger stated, “This year had the most people and was definitely the warmest plunge. It was nice to be back in Seaside.” Lombardi raised over $300 this year and has worn the same polar bear hat for all of her plunges.

The Polar Bear Plunge for Seaside Heights’s goal was to raise a minimum of one million dollars by the start of the event, which, of course, they reached two days prior to the event even beginning. The Polar Bear Plunge has taken place in New Jersey for 20 years and has continually reached its goal of a million dollars for years. This year, there were about 6,000 participants of the Polar Bear Plunge and approximately 340 teams.

“Now that I’ve been doing this for a few years, I realized that it’s a worthy activity that can bring people together. It’s nice to be a part of something bigger than yourself,” said Miss Danielle Simkovich, English teacher & 5th year Plunger. Simkovich does the plunge with her siblings, friends, and a few State Troopers. in a group called Simko’s Surf Shack. This year Simkovich raised $513 for the cause and dressed as a disco diva fully equipped with an afro wig.

New Jersey residents running out of the water to warm-up.
New Jersey residents running out of the water to warm-up.

Colonia High School raised money for the Special Olympics as well with a hat day that took place on February 21st. Students sold ribbons during lunch and raised $186 towards this cause.

“I thought it was a really good cause so I decided to do it. It was fun way to get people together,” said Sophia Figueroa, junior at Colonia High School, who also participated in this event. It was her first year doing the event and she even raised about $160.

The Polar Bear Plunge will benefit over 23,000 athletes that participate in the event. They have over 20 sports to participate in, including volleyball, figure skating, basketball, softball, soccer, track & field, and gymnastics.

Anyone above the age of 8 can participate in the Special Olympics and children between the age of 2 ½ and 7 are eligible to participate in their Youth Athlete Program. All the money donated to The Polar Bear Plunge goes towards helping these events.

If this fundraiser interests you, Lombardi offers this as advice to 1st time plungers, “When you hit the water, it isn’t cold cause your adrenaline is pumping. You get cold after.”