Chilly, but fun – at ‘Polar Plunge’

No snow at this outer East Portland beach encouraged more folks than usual to take an icy dip in the Columbia River for a good cause …

Helping participants check in at the 2018 Polar Plunge are Ella Wahrgren, her mom Chandra Wahrgren, and Patty Solberg.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Although this year’s Polar Plunge began with a “Winter Storm Warning” for the hearty “Super Plungers” who started their hourly dips in the Columbia River on February 23, the weather later cleared off for the main event on the morning of February 24.

Again this year, Broughton Beach – adjacent to Portland International Airport – was the site for this fundraising event that benefits Special Olympics Oregon.

Before the chilly dipping began at 11:00 a.m., about 500 people participated in the “Polar Plunge 5K Run and Walk” – and many of them later plunged.

The “Super Plungers” charge toward the water to make their 23rd hourly plunge.

At 10:00 a.m., this year’s 16 “Super Plungers” took their 23rd hourly swim of the event, having dipped every hour, on the hour, since noon the day before.

“It was cold and it was windy yesterday, but it wasn’t miserable,” said Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Division Sergeant Richard Hathaway after his next-to-last plunge.

Back for his fourth year is Super Plunger” Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Division Sergeant Richard Hathaway.

“The other ‘Super Plungers’ are great, the camaraderie makes it fun, exciting, and I’m glad to be with them,” Hathaway told East Portland News while drying off – again.

This is his fourth year as a “Super Plunger”, Hathaway observed. “After the first year, I knew I wanted to come back and have fun with this great group who are all here to raise money for Special Olympics Oregon.”

Before their final hourly dip, the “Super Plungers” gather for a team photo.

-5 Welcoming the first wave of plungers to the water’s edge is Special Olympics Oregon Director of Marketing Communications Chad Carter.

“In addition to being hearty and fun-loving folks, our “Super Plungers” have each raised a minimum of $3,000 to participate; but many raised more, this year totaling $65,000,” grinned Special Olympics Oregon Director of Marketing Communications Chad Carter.

Across the state, Special Olympics Oregon operates five Polar Plunges, Carter said – the one in Portland being the finale of their season.

“We’re glad the winter storm didn’t materialize; perhaps helping have such a good turnout with 1,300 preregistered plungers, and perhaps several hundred more registering here this morning, chased the clouds away,” Carter told East Portland News.

Getting ready for their plunge is this colorful group, the “Oregon State Police SuperDispartchers.

Another wave of plungers splashes into the chilly river

… and quickly make their way back to shore!

The event is a major fundraiser for Special Olympics Oregon – which, year around, works with 14,000 participants across the state, Carter explained. “Beyond major events, we have something going on almost every single day of the year; be it practice, training, competition or just camaraderie and friendship – things that go beyond the playing field.

“Thanks to the support of our communities, our participants can participate free of charge,” Carter added.

With some of his staff from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Mike Reese (third from left) takes the plunge.

Beyond the sports competition, Carter explained, Special Olympics Oregon’s slogan is “Training for Life”.

“What our participants learn in training for the sports field translates directly into so many other areas of their lives,” Carter said. “Our participants say it helps them in school, in work, at home, and developing friendships, as well as showing them how to work as a team.

“The skills they develop helps the participants, from eight to 80-years-old, in their everyday lives,” said Carter.

Waves of participants take the plunge, until all of the groups have taken the dip.

If you weren’t up to “plunging”, you might consider at least attending their “Breakfast with Champions” coming up on April 25. For more information, see their official webpage: CLICK HERE.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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