Have a special spot in your heart for the athletes who participate in Special Olympics? Get out your bathing suit.
This year, Special Olympics Arizona is holding its first-ever statewide polar plunge event March 20, said Curtis Gilpin, the director for the Monument area, which includes Greenlee and Graham counties.
Normally, Special Olympics groups in the coldest part of the state set a goal, raise donations and then jump into a local pool.
This year, people throughout the state are being invited to start a team, join a team or participate as an individual in any manner they choose.
People can jump in their backyard or community pool, submerge themselves in a bathtub of ice water, get hosed down by a friend or dump a bucket of ice on their head.
Participants are encouraged to take photos and videos to share on a team or personal webpage while tagging Special Olympics Arizona.
The great thing about this event is the money raised stays in the area where the individual or their team is registered, Culpin said.
The Monument area includes Clifton, Morenci, Safford, Holbrook, Navajo Nation, Show Low, Springerville and surrounding cities.
The funds raised will go toward such things as sports equipment, new uniforms, meals and traveling expenses (once COVID-19-related travel restrictions are lifted), Culpin said.
The goal for the Monument area is $5,000, he said.
Because of COVID-19, this year’s basketball season has been cancelled and cheerleading has been postponed, Culpin said.
However, the summer games will be held virtually this year and they’ll be spread out longer than the usual 2 1/2 days, he said.
The 5,000 athletes who usually participate from throughout the state will be asked to participate in their chosen event, record it and submit it, Culpin said. The events will later be streamed on the SOAZconnected Facebook page where the results will be revealed and Zoom interviews with the winners will be shared.
It will resembles ESPN Sports Center-style programs, Culpin said.