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Special Olympics Indiana invites supporters to raise money and awareness by taking part in its 2021 Versailles Polar Plunge, to be held Saturday, Feb. 13 at Versailles State Park for the twelfth year.  Participants are encouraged to register in advance at www.PolarPlungeIN.org

As the organization’s signature fundraiser for over 20 years, the Polar Plunge directly benefits more than 18,000 Special Olympics athletes throughout Indiana and plays a vital role in ensuring that an ever-growing number of children and adults with intellectual disabilities continue to benefit from no-cost participation in life-changing sports, health, education, and leadership programs.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, crowds will be limited and to ensure social distancing guidelines can be followed while plunging, the Versailles Polar Plunge will use a segmented schedule with multiple plunge times spread over a several hour period beginning at 12:00 p.m.  Participants are encouraged to register in advance at www.PolarPlungeIN.org  to enable organizers to assign scheduled times. If for some reason one is unable to register on-line, please contact the Versailles Polar Plunge Director, Greg Townsend 812-584-6861 or at [email protected] to receive a scheduled time slot.

In the winter of 2020, Special Olympics Indiana set an all-time high when more than 3,500 plungers took part in their signature fundraiser and brought in over $920,000 to support year-round programs and events for their athletes. To date, the Versailles Polar Plunge has raised over $550,000 in the last twelve years.

“Looking back on a challenging year, we are tremendously proud of all we accomplished together with our athletes and incredibly grateful to the dedicated supporters who made those accomplishments possible by raising a record amount through the 2020 Polar Plunge,” said President & CEO Jeff Mohler. “As a new year begins, we are optimistic about the future and — with another successful Polar Plunge season — confident that Special Olympics Indiana will continue to grow and to thrive.”

Versailles is one of 16 locations set to host an in-person Polar Plunge event this winter, with additional options for remote participation also offered to better accommodate those who want to be a part of the fun without attending. All at-home participants are challenged to “Earn Your Wings” by registering for a virtual snow angel contest or by signing up for the first annual Polar Plunge Run, to be completed and timed on an individual basis. To learn more visit www.PolarPlungeIN.org.

“This year’s plunge will be a little different, but the Special Olympics’ mission remains the same,” said Special Olympics Indiana – Ripley Ohio Dearborn Counties’ local Program Coordinator and Versailles Polar Plunge Director, Greg Townsend. “The local program of Ripley Ohio Dearborn Counties is proud to host this event year after year,” Townsend added.

All Polar Plunge participants are asked to raise a minimum of $75 in pledges before taking an icy dip into the lake to demonstrate their commitment to the cause, with prizes and awards presented to top fundraisers. Participants can register as individuals or gather friends, family members, co-workers, or others and register as a team.

To keep their volunteers and participants safe and healthy, the following activities have been eliminated from the 2021 Versailles Polar Plunge: opening ceremonies, costume contest (participants are still encouraged to dress in their favorite Plunge attire/costume, the Polar Climb 5K Run/3K Walk, the Lions Club Food Court, and all carnival games including the Razzle Dazzle Basket Raffle. And the following protocols will be implemented:

  • All volunteer and participants will be required to sign a waiver, answer COVID-19 screening questions and have their temperature checked prior to entering the event area. Participants will receive a wristband to identify those that have been screened. Anyone with any Covid-19 symptoms, a temperature of 100.4 and above, or anyone that has encountered someone that is known to be COVID-19 positive in the last 14 days will not be permitted to participate or stay.
  • All participants will be required to provide a phone number for contact tracing purposes.
  • Masks or face coverings will be mandatory at all times, the only exception is when the participant goes into the lake. The participant must put on a mask again after exiting the water. Masks will be available and distributed to anyone who may need one.
  • It is highly recommended that Plunge participants arrive in their swimsuit or plunge attire.
  • Social distancing must be maintained at all times, even when in a changing tent.
  • High fives, handshakes, or other direct contact are NOT permitted.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available at screening, registration, souvenirs and in the changing tents.
  • Spectators are not permitted to attend this year’s event (a parent or guardian will be allowed for minors, but must complete a waiver, answer all COVID-19 screening questions and adhere to all mask and social distancing protocols).

The Polar Plunge is presented by the Law Enforcement Torch Run® to benefit Special Olympics Indiana and is supported by a variety of companies and other organizations through sponsorships or employee matching programs. Additional support for the 2021 Versailles Polar Plunge has been provided locally by the Indiana Knights of Columbus District 28, Versailles State Park/DNR, Dearborn County Water Rescue and Recovery, the Lions Clubs of Ripley County,  the Aurora Lions Club, Best Way, Negangard Party Rentals, Ferrell Gas, Aurora Fraternal Order of Eagles, the Batesville Fraternal Order of Eagles, Brown and Kress, DDS of Versailles, Versailles IGA, Haag Ford, Napoleon State Bank, Steve’s Sunoco of St. Leon, the Ripley County Health Department and Dr. Welsh, Eagle Country 99.3 FM, WRBI 103.9 FM, Register Publications, The Versailles Republican, and the Osgood Journal.

“With the help of our good friends and supporters of the Versailles Polar Plunge, Special Olympics Indiana is making a difference every day, whether in-person or virtually,” said Townsend. “We thank them for their ongoing support, especially during these unprecedented times.”

Visit www.PolarPlungeIN.org to learn more about the Polar Plunge or to register or donate in support of a participating individual or team.

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