Plungers chill in Weevil Pond for Special Olympics

For several years now, I’ve watched those dedicated individuals brave the frigid February water in Weevil Pond to raise money for Special Olympics. So this year, I decided to do it myself. Friday night at 8 p.m. I dove into Weevil Pond to help Karen Caldwell and her husband, Jason, by taking one of their 24 plunges.

Me (No. 11) and Karen Caldwell. Diving in. Emerging.

I can’t attest to the water temperature on Saturday but I can assure you that water was freezing Friday night. While it was cold – very cold, getting my feet stuck in the mud was even worse. My feet began to sink into the mud causing me to lose balance and fall back into the water as I turned to walk back toward the pond bank.

The Caldwells (left) plunging with Drew County Customs team as South Arkansas Rehabilitation, a team they have never beat in the annual costume contest. If you can’t beat them “be” them.

Jason and Karen plunge every hour for 24 hours leading up to the final Saturday plunge at the annual Area 12 Polar Plunge for Special Olympics when dozens of costumed characters from Southeast Arkansas jump into the water to raise money for Special Olympics.

South Arkansas Rehabilitation team

This year, Area 12, which includes Ashley, Bradley, Calhoun, Chicot, Dallas, Desha and Drew counties, raised $12,740 through plunge donations, a desert auction and the sale of chili and t-shirts.

The Drew County Sheriff’s Office (left photo) and Reggie Riley (right photo) won the fundraising awards in the community division.

Prior to the plunge, awards were presented to individuals and teams with the best costumes and those who raised the most money. The Drew County Sheriff’s Office won the fundraising award in the community division, raising $3,000. Reggie Riley, who promised to dress up as a drag queen if he raised $1,000, met his goal and received the individual fundraising award in the community division. While Riley did keep his promise and plunge in drag, he didn’t win the individual costume award; that went to Bill Kinzie, a Dallas County resident who dressed as the Roman emperor Caligula.

Bill Kinzie plunges as Caligula
South Arkansas Rehabilitation (Flintstones), Bill Kinzie (Caligula), and Reggie Riley (drag queen) pictured in the foreground before the awards ceremony

The team costume award went to South Arkansas Rehabilitation for their Fintstones costumes. They even had a replica of Fred’s footmobile.

The awards were presented in two divisions, the University of Arkansas-Monticello (UAM) division and a community division.

Alpha Sigma Alpha

Winners in the UAM division were Alpha Sigma Alpha, the top fundraising team; Jay Hughes, the top fundraising individual; Wildmen, the best team costume; and Priscilla Butler, a “zombie” representing Sigma Sigma Sigma, had the best individual costume.

Guerrilla Martial Arts and Fitness won an award for having the youngest team plunging.

Guerrilla Martial Arts & Fitness plungers

The event was organized by Area 12 Special Olympics co-directors Karen Caldwell and Ked Donham, who plunged with the Drew County Sheriff’s Department team.


Nicolette Thornhill, a member of the Guerrilla Martial Arts & Fitness team


Chicot County Sheriff’s Office


Dumas Police Department team
Monticello Middle School team






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2 Responses to “Plungers chill in Weevil Pond for Special Olympics”

  1. Thomas Deen

    The support in the law enforcement community for this worthy cause is fantastic!

  2. Tim Nichols

    I will say that the water was very cold Saturday morning, but was worth every minute of it. It was for a good cause and I know I will continue to do it every year. Thanks to the people who donated and thanks to the plungers. I know of three people who can’t swim that were brave enough to do it for such a great cause. Takes guts and heart.


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