Jumping into a 4-foot-deep outdoor pool when temperatures are below freezing might sound insane to some, but the brave souls who do it will tell you it’s all for a good cause — and a lot of frigid fun.

The Polar Plunge fundraiser, which will benefit Special Olympics Indiana, returns for the third year in Columbus at 11 a.m. Feb. 4 outside The Commons, said Chase Ayres, local chairman of the event.

Special Olympics Indiana provides year-round sports training and athletic competitions in 20 Olympic-type sports that supports more than 12,000 athletes in Indiana who have intellectual disabilities.

While relatively new to Columbus, it’s the 16th year the Polar Plunge has been held across the state, said Francie Smith, south regional manager for Special Olympics Indiana. The event is the organization’s largest fundraiser with proceeds making up half of its annual budget.

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“It’s just grown by leaps and bounds,” Smith said. “We have a great representation of the athletes and the supporters in Columbus. It’s a great little fundraiser for all of our counties.”

Ayres said officials have set a local goal of raising $20,000 this year and hope to have more than 100 people participate. The local event raised $15,000 in 2016.

Proceeds will help Special Olympians in Bartholomew, Brown and Jennings counties, Ayres said.

Awards are given out for the best costume, and get-ups in the past have included superheroes to sports jerseys, Ayres said.

“They get really creative with it,” he said. “Anything goes, really.”

Awards also will be handed out to the largest group that takes the plunge together, the most money raised by an individual and the most money raised by a team consisting of 10 members or more.

To participate, adults must raise at least $75 in pledges. High school and college students who show identification must raise a minimum of $50 to participate.

Participants must be at least 12 years old on the day of the event, with parental permission required for individuals younger than 18, according to the organization’s website.

How to sign up

Individuals or teams wanting to take the Polar Plunge Feb. 4 in Columbus should visit soindiana.org/polar-plunge/ to register. Pledges must be brought to the event along with a copy of online fundraising totals.

If you go

What: Special Olympics Indiana Polar Plunge in Columbus

When: 9 to 10:30 a.m. Feb. 4 for registration, Polar Plunge at 11 a.m. on Fourth Street

Where: In front of The Commons, 300 Washington St., Columbus

Cost: Free to watch, but participants must register in advance

Bonus: An “After Splash Bash” is planned at The Commons. Cost is $5 donation fee for individuals watching who wish to attend; plungers and event volunteers are free.

How to pledge

Anyone can support Special Olympics Indiana by pledging an amount to an individual or team taking the Polar Plunge or becoming a Virtual Plunger. Visit firstgiving.com/soindiana to register.

A Super Plunger program is also available that requires participants to raise a minimum of $4,000. They must also plunge at a minimum of two plunge sites during the Polar Plunge season, including the Indianapolis Plunge in March.

For more information, call 800-742-0612.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com