The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 20, 2013

Polar Plunge fundraising event returns

JOHNSTOWN — Scores of brave people will be freezin’ for a reason.

The Laurel Highlands Polar Plunge to benefit Western Pennsylvania Special Olympics athletes will be held at 1 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Quemahoning Reservoir in Boswell.

Registration begins at 10 a.m.

Last year, just under 200 people jumped into the cold water at the inaugural event, which raised $45,000.

“The Laurel Highlands and the Johnstown area have been longtime supporters of our organization and we have a wonderful relationship with the community and they have embraced the plunge,” said Eric Cushing, SOPA’s vice president of marketing and development.

To date, there are 75 people signed up for the plunge.

“Our goal is to have 250 get in the water,” Cushing said.

Those not adventurous enough to venture into the icy water still can support the cause by registering under “Too Chicken to Plunge” and for a $50 minimum donation can support family, friends or co-workers who are plunging.

“If going into the water isn’t in the cards for them, we offer a separate opportunity to participate,” Cushing said. “We’ll have a chicken coop set up and we’ll do the chicken dance and make it a fun part of the day.”

Participants will be able to hang out in Plunge Town, where there will be games, food and refreshments, live music and costume contests.

Cushing said people do the plunge for different reasons, whether it be something to cross off their bucket list, a team building exercise for business employees or an event a high school sports team can do together, but everyone wants to raise awareness of Special Olympics.

“It has been tremendous so far in terms of growth and popularity,” he said. “We welcome as many folks as possible and would love to eventually see 500 people get involved.”

The plunge is open to the public and spectators are welcome free of charge.

For more information or to sign up: www.plungepa.org.

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