Tuesday, January 17, 2023

2023 Polar Bear Plunge raises over $275k for Special Olympians

Vikings, mummers and bathing suit-clad revelers of just about every description charged into the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday, January 14 for a great cause.

The 2023 Special Olympics NJ Polar Bear Plunge saw 875 brave souls take the frosty dip, raising $276,000 for programs that benefit the state's Special Olympians; this brings the event's 17-year total to 13,306 participants, who have raised a cumulative $4,281,263.

"All the money raised allows the roughly 20,000 Special Olympics athletes in the state, and their families, to participate in sports at no cost," said John Lynch, spokesperson and hype man for the event. "We want to thank anyone and everyone who has donated, this year and over the past 17 years.

"This is one of my favorite events on the calendar, because of how much fun we have and what it represents. It's one big party!"

Just before Lynch led the countdown to signal the race to the surf at 1 pm, we took down the following (unofficial) observations:

  • Weather: 36° and Cloudy (44° ocean temp), 15 mph wind (NW) with gusts around 20 mph
  • High tide in effect, began roughly 30 mins earlier at 12:32 pm
  • Sand dry and firm (little to no precipitation overnight)

Following the plunge, a lunch reception and awards ceremony was held at the Wildwoods Convention Center, which, along with the City of Wildwood, serves as the event's annual host.

Taking Highest Fundraising Team honors was the AlohAvengers ($32,120), followed by Pigs in a Blanket ($25,392) and Piggy Park Plungers ($17,976).

The Highest Fundraising Individual Award went to Gary Evangelista ($6,054), with Bob Higgins ($5,250) and David Moy ($5,010) rounding out the Top 3.

Those interested in donating and/or learning more about Special Olympics NJ are directed to visit www.plungewildwood.org and www.sonj.org.

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