Ball State students jumping into a pool of cold water have helped hit a new milestone for Special Olympics Indiana (SOI).
The annual SOI Polar Plunge took place outside the L.A. Pittenger Student Center on Saturday.
Julie Burkholder, SOI northeast regional manager, said in an email an estimated $20,000 was raised at the event, the largest of all previous Ball State Polar Plunges.
The money was raised from an estimated 150 plungers and many more virtual plungers.
The Polar Plunge is an SOI fundraising event where volunteers make donations and jump into a pool filled with cold water to raise money and awareness.
Since 1999, SOI has used Polar Plunge to spread its message and build networks in communities and schools. This year, 23 plungers from New Castle High School took part in the event.
SOI’s vision is to use the power of sports to start social change and break down misperceptions, according to its website.
“We’ve got a bigger vision than sports,” said Jeff Mohler, president and CEO of SOI.
This year is SOI’s 50th anniversary, and the organization has a goal in place to raise $1 million through fundraisers. Mohler said every dollar raised goes toward helping the schools that train the athletes and whatever else the program needs.
According SOI’s website, it has reached more than 16,000 athletes statewide in almost every one of Indiana’s counties. Through fundraising, SOI athletes do not have to pay anything to participate in sporting events.
Burkholder said campus plunges are important because they let students impact their college community and the athletes living in them. She said Polar Plunges are the largest fundraisers for SOI, with some of the biggest plunges being on college campuses.
“I believe in the Polar Plunge and what the Special Olympics does,” said Payton Norris, Phi Sigma Kappa public relations representative.
The Polar Plunge is on for the next five weekends across Indiana. SOI also accepts donations at its website.