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2021 Polar Plunge raises over $24K for Special Olympics Montana

Posted at 10:15 PM, Dec 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-04 00:15:29-05

The 2021 Polar Plunge was back in person at the Billings Depot Friday. Last year, the event had to be held virtually because of COVID-19, but participants couldn’t be happier to go “freezin’ for a reason.”

Emily Schaff, the area director of Special Olympics Yellowstone Valley, took the plunge for a cause that’s near and dear to her heart.

“It’s really a great opportunity not only to get the word and mission out about Special Olympics but also highlight the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which is a group of law enforcement officials who strictly raise funds for Special Olympics,” said Schaff.

This year, the Law Enforcement Torch Run raised over $24,000. These funds go towards Special Olympic athletes and their families.

The Polar Plunge is just like it sounds, and even those who didn’t plunge could donate to the cause. Billings police officer and this year’s Polar Plunge event coordinator, Gabrielle DeNio, was the first to jump into the icy water.

“So we get donations for ice and we threw a lot of ice in it, and the rest of the bags, participants’ families or anybody from the public can buy those bags of ice and throw them in before we jump in,” said DeNio.

Some participants even showed up in costume. Many of those who plunged are volunteers for the Special Olympics, like Jacque Odonnell.

“We’re raising money for the Special Olympics. The Huntley Project Club is brand new. We just put in paperwork here less than a month ago so this is our first fundraiser to get our team kicked off for bowling which starts Monday,” said Odonnell.

The cause outweighed the cold, and luckily for those who jumped, a hot tub was installed so participants wouldn’t freeze for long.

If you missed this year’s Polar Plunge, fear not. The Law Enforcement Torch Run sponsors 12 annual plunges across Montana that you can participate in.