Annual Polar Plunge event raises money for Special Olympics

If you see a bunch of people dressed up in costumes outside of the Dow Bay Area Family YMCA, parading around and then diving into an outdoor pool in freezing temperatures, don’t be alarmed. It’s the annual Bay City Polar Plunge.

On Sunday, Feb. 17, dozens of brave souls will be lining up outside in the snow for their chance to help raise funds for Special Olympics Michigan.

Costumes aren’t required but are rewarded for participants in the event, which enlists both individuals and teams. Following an 11:45 a.m. parade of costumes, awards will be handed out for best costumes for individuals and teams, and the youngest and oldest participants.

Following the parade, participants will then jump in a pool constructed in front of the YMCA. A Michigan State Police dive team will be in the pool to help participants safely exit the freezing cold water.

"We do these plunges to help benefit the athletes. The money raised helps provide competition training and health programming, and all at no costs to the families," says Nolan Rogers, Development and Events Coordinator for Special Olympics Michigan.

The Polar Plunges occur across the state throughout the winter season and act as the biggest fundraiser of the year for the organization.

Participants create fundraising pages online, with supporters then pledging funds.

Since the first Polar Plunge in Saginaw in the year 2000, the organization has raised more than $9.8 million for Special Olympics Michigan. It hopes to raise $1.2 million over the course of the numerous Michigan Plunge sites this season.

This is the fourth year that Bay City has hosted its own Polar Plunge, breaking off from a joint-Saginaw Plunge in 2016. Bay City is identified as Area 9 for the Special Olympics organization, which includes Arenac and Bay counties.

Bay City Polar Plunge is currently accepting registrants online. Registration is also available the morning of the event.

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