Taking the plunge

Organizers are looking for volunteers willing to jump into icy water in an outdoor pool to benefit the Special Olympics — in front of spectators.

This year’s Polar Plunge is Feb. 6 outside The Commons in downtown Columbus.

“It’s definitely something a lot of people haven’t experienced,” said 2016 Polar Plunge Chairman Charles Ayers.

Ayers has experienced it — and took a selfie while diving into the pool at last year’s event.

Proceeds from the Polar Plunge provide money for more than 11,000 Special Olympics Indiana athletes to compete in competitive events.

Those who register to take the Plunge pay a minimum $75 registration fee — or $50 for students — toward supporting athletes competing in the Special Olympics. Participants are encouraged to gather more donations beyond the registration fee.

Then, on the day of the event, the pool is set up and the participants, many in zany costumes and other gear, dive in. This year, the pool will be on the Fourth Street side of The Commons.

Long-range forecasts from the National Weather Service predict a brisk day for this year’s Plunge, with temperatures in the low 30s. That would be about 10 degrees cooler than last year’s event in the inaugural year.

In the event’s first year, 62 individuals and 11 teams raised nearly $13,150 for Special Olympics. The goal is to double that amount this year, Ayers said.

Columbus Police Department’s team raised the most money in the event in 2015. Officers raised more than $1,300 by agreeing to jump into the pool in uniform.

“The Special Olympics is a great cause,” said Sgt. Matt Harris, department spokesman. “If it takes police officers jumping in wearing their uniforms, that’s a small price to pay.”

Officers will return to the event this year with the same offer, Harris said.

Following the main event in Columbus, three awards will be given to participants, including largest team, most money raised by a team and most money raised by an individual. Those who choose to wear a costume while participating are eligible for a costume award.

So far, 18 individuals on five different teams have registered for the 2016 Plunge.

Similar events are planned in 16 different cities across the state including Bloomington and Indianapolis.

If you go

2016 Polar Plunge

When: Feb. 6, with registration starting at 9 a.m. and participants driving into the water at 11 a.m.

Where: Outside The Commons, 300 Washington St., on the Fourth Street side

Registration: Minimum donation of $75 for adults, $50 for students, with participants encouraged to get pledges to support their participation, $5 for admission to the “After Splash Bash” for non-participants.

How to register for The Polar Plunge

Visit firstgiving.com/soindiana/2016columbusplunge

Click the green “Join Now” button on the upper right hand side of the screen to register a team or individual participant.

Contributions to teams and individuals also can be made from this page.