It’s called “Freezin’ for a Reason,” and that’s exactly what it was for Polar Plunge participants who were more than “willin’ to take a chillin’” in Lake Langhofer’s cold waters at Regional Park Saturday to raise funds for Area IX Special Olympics.
“I think it’s a little bit crazy to jump into a cold lake, but I also think it’s a great way to help others,” said 24-year-old Ricky Davis of Batesville, an emergency response team officer with the Arkansas Department of Correction. “It’s my first year to plunge, and I’m glad to be able to do it to support Special Olympics.”
Also making his first plunge was fellow ERT Officer Timothy Davis, 26, of Jonesboro. The men, who aren’t related, are co-workers at ADC’s Grimes Unit in Newport.
“I’m not a fan of cold water, but I’ve fallen in cold water before while duck hunting, so I’m sure that I’ll survive,” Timothy Davis said with a laugh when asked if there’s any such thing as preparation for an icy plunge.
“I have a church friend who is a Special Olympics competitor, and I know it’s something he enjoys and it makes him feel good about himself. So, it doesn’t matter if the water’s cold — there’s no where else we would rather be,” he said.
Veteran plunger Samantha Harvey, 34, of Rison said she’s been a participant in the event since its inception.
“And I’m also a volunteer in the actual Special Olympics activities,” Harvey said. “The Polar Bear Plunge really is ‘Freezin’ for a Reason,’ and it’s become close to my heart. When you see the joy on the faces of the Special Olympics contestants, it really warms your heart. And if anybody thinks we’re crazy for plunging, it’s over with pretty fast.”
Chelsea Harris, 24, of Pine Bluff was unable to take part in Saturday’s plunge but intends to get back into the water at next year’s event after plunging in 2012.
“I’m here to show my support for Special Olympics and to yell for Samantha,” she said.
Harris and Harvey are co-workers at Fairfield Federal Credit Union here.
“Special Olympics is near and dear to Samantha and me as well as Fairfield,” Harris said.
Paramedic Mike Drost and Emergency Medical Technician Phillip Tallent of EASI (Emergency Ambulanace Service Inc.) here were on standby with an ambulance in case their expertise was needed. They were on hand for a morning 5K run/walk for Special Olympics as well.
“I do this as part of my job, but if I wasn’t working, I would be happy to help support Special Olympics as a volunteer,” said Drost, a member of the Watson Chapel Volunteer Fire Department. “I’m a firm believer in volunteerism, and EASI supports the community we serve. It’s cold out here, but it’s not too cold to support Special Olympics.”
“This is a great event,” said Tallent. “The Special Olympics organization does a great service for the community. I’ll support it any way I can.”