Saturday was a perfect day to curl up beside a fire and read a good book but more than 75 Southeast Arkansas residents, dressed as WWF wrestlers, characters from the Wizard of Oz, and even a toasted marshmallow man, stood in line waiting to submerge themselves in the frigid water at the Area 12 Special Olympics Polar Plunge at Weevil Pond on the University of Arkansas at Monticello campus.
Prior to the plunge, awards were presented to the individual and team with the best costumes and those who raised the most money.
Reggie Riley’s toasted marshmallow man costume, created by his daughter, won best individual costume and Riley won the award for the individual raising the most money for Special Olympics. Riley raised $319.
Judging was close in the best team costume but South Arkansas Rehabilitation’s Wizard of Oz costumes edged Drew County Customs WWF wrestlers.
Drew County Customs, however, won the team fundraising award. They raised $3,530 after taking 24 “super” plunges every hour on the hour beginning Friday morning and continuing until the Polar Plunge began the following day.
Plungers were are asked to get donations of at least $50 from friends, relatives and co-workers in exchange for taking the plunge. As an incentive, they received gifts such as shirts, LED flashlights, bags, beach towels, and insulated picnic baskets — depending on how much they raised. The event raised more than $10,000 for Special Olympics.
The event was organized by Area 12 Special Olympics co-directors Karen Caldwell, a member of the Drew County Customs team, and Ked Donham, who plunged with the Drew County Sheriff’s Department team.
The following video shows every plunge (more photos after the video).