Polar Bear Plunge Saturday in Pine Bluff

The fourth annual Polar Bear Plunge — the popular “Freezin’ for a Reason” fundraising event that benefits Arkansas Special Olympics — is scheduled for today at Regional Park in Pine Bluff.

Travis Chisom, Area IX director of Special Olympics, said registration will begin at 1 p.m. and the plunge takes place at 2. An added feature to this year’s event is a 5K run/walk. Funds from the run/walk will also go to Special Olympics.

Chisom said previously that the run/walk represents an expansion to what organizers originally hoped would become a “winter festival” here, focused on the plunge.

“We’re going to try to expand every year,” Chisom said.

Awards will be presented to the individual and team raising the most money, as well as for sporting the best costumes.

The fee to take part as a “plunger” will be a minimum donation of $50. Each plunger will receive an official T-shirt.

Donors contributing $250 will also receive an LED flashlight and bag. Those giving $500 will also receive a beach towel, and contributions of more than $1,000 will net a picnic basket as well as the other prizes offered.

Registration for the run/walk will be from 9-10:15 a.m. with the event starting at 10:30 a.m. The registration fee will be $25 per participant, and trophies will be presented to male and female winners in seven age categories. All run/walk participants will receive an official T-shirt.

Chisom said the fundraising goal for this year is $15,000, which he believes can be reached or even surpassed “if we get 90 to 100 plungers” along with a good number of participants in the run/walk. A year ago, there were 61 plungers participating, generating funds of $9,600.

All money raised will go to the Arkansas Special Olympics, with 30 percent of the total amount coming back to support programs in Area IX, which is inclusive of Jefferson County.

There are more than 13,000 Special Olympics athletes statewide, training and competing in aquatics, track and field, gymnastics, soccer, basketball, tennis, golf, power lifting and other sports at local, regional, state and international levels.