Western Mass. residents take the polar plunge to raise money for Special Olympics

Western Mass. residents take the polar plunge to raise money for Special Olympics
Published: Mar. 12, 2023 at 2:20 PM EDT
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WESTFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Hundreds of people were ‘freezin’ for a reason’ in Westfield to raise money for the Special Olympics by taking a polar plunge.

On a sunny but chilly Sunday in Westfield, hundreds of people took on the freezing water temperatures in the 3rd Annual Polar Plunge benefiting the Special Olympics.

Polar Plunge organizer Erica Ireland told Western Mass News that they have doubled the number of polar plungers and donations from 2022.

“Last year, it was very cold; we had 153 polar plungers registered. This year, we are double that number and we have doubled the amount of money that we have raised for Special Olympics,” she said. “We have raised over $65,000 for Special Olympics Massachusetts athletes.”

Western Mass News had our very own cold correspondent Libby James ready to take on her first polar plunge. We caught up with her moments before she took on the sub-20-degree waters.

“I’m already cold, my hands are freezing, but I’m ready for this,” she told us.

However, James was quick to run back to dry land shortly after a shivery swim.

“I can’t feel my toes, but it was good! It was good,” she said.

Meanwhile, other polar plungers told Western Mass News that they would not mind going back for seconds.

“It felt amazing,” said Malachi Vivenzio of Springfield. “I want to go again, honestly.”

However, most told us that they will keep their polar plunge experience to a minimum.

“It was really cold, and I’m kind of just numb,” said Analise Vazquez of Westfield.

What was a cold experience for everyone who participated was also a heartwarming one as organizers celebrated hitting their donation goals to help Special Olympic athletes receive equipment and pay for travel expenses.

Ireland told us that it was worth a few short seconds of freezing her feathers off.

“No snow in sight, blue skies, and happy people,” she said. “Everybody is encouraged to come on out, support us, cheer us on, and come have some fun and celebrate inclusion.”