Polar Bear Plunge raises goosebumps, and $6,300-plus

Friday, February 20, 2009
Thirty-four folks of all ages and in every conceivable form of dress stood on the shore of Table Rock Lake Saturday morning in anticipation -- or dread -- of the Polar Bear Plunge they were about to take. The event has raised $6,300 for Special Olympics, and donations continue to come in. As Eureka Springs Det. Morris Pate said, "Everybody was ready to get wet and get gone!" Photo by Chip Ford

EUREKA SPRINGS -- A variety of local citizens made a big splash last weekend in support of Special Olympics of Arkansas.

Saturday morning at 11 a.m., 34 brave souls jumped into the 40-degree water of Table Rock Lake. The pledges they secured raised more than $6,300 for Special Olympics, and donations continue to come in to support this cause.

Despite the 35-degree temperature and windy conditions at the time of the Polar Bear Plunge, 60 to 70 spectators showed up in support of the jumpers.

Rescue personnel were on hand in case the cold water overcame someone, but there were no mishaps.

Jumpers ranged from elementary school to senior citizens. "They were shaking and shuddering, but everybody had a great attitude," according to Eureka Springs Det. Morris Pate. "Everybody was ready to get wet and get gone!"

The Eureka Springs Police Department has held other events in support of Special Olympics, but this is the first year for the Polar Bear Plunge here. "We did pretty good for our first showing," Pate said. "We're going to do it again next year." 

Pate explained that he and Police Chief Earl Hyatt have particular interests in the cause of Special Olympics. "Earl and I have people in our family that are special needs children and will eventually be Special Olympians," he said.

The ESPD has other fundraising activities planned, and anyone wishing to donate to Special Olympics can call the station at (479) 253-8666.

A regional track meet for Area 2 Special Olympians will be held at the Eureka Springs track April 24.

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