Winter is coming…and so is the Polar Plunge! Jumping into a freezing pool or natural body of water in the middle of winter may seem like a crazy idea, but over the past 22 years, thousands upon thousands of Special Olympics Indiana supporters have risen to the challenge, braved the elements, and made our annual Polar Plunge a huge success.
In the winter of 2020, we set all-time highs when more than 3,500 plungers took part in our signature fundraiser and brought in over $920,000 to support year-round programs and events for our athletes. Those funds have made possible our efforts to find new and creative ways to engage the people we serve during this difficult time, and we’re counting on YOU to help ensure that our virtual and in-person programs will continue to thrive in 2021 and beyond.
Support Special Olympics athletes in your community and across the state by joining us for this extreme fundraising event for the warm at heart! Learn more below about our plans for a safe and exciting Polar Plunge season and register yourself or your team today!
About the Polar Plunge
Special Olympics Indiana’s signature fundraiser, the Polar Plunge is a series of exhilarating events held each winter where individuals and teams brave the elements by taking an icy dip to demonstrate their commitment to the cause. Each Polar Plunge event has its own unique personality, with additional activities ranging from costume contests to 5K fundraising races and the always popular “After Splash Bash” — a celebration following each event where participants are recognized and presented with awards.*
All funds raised by the events directly benefit more than 18,000 Special Olympics athletes throughout the state, giving them the means to train locally and compete at the state level in a number of Olympic-type sports. Thank you for Freezin’ for a Reason!
Three Easy Steps to Join the Fun!
STEP 1: Commit!
Make the commitment to participate in the 2021 Polar Plunge by choosing your location and registering online as an in-person or virtual participant.
STEP 2: Fundraise!
Share the link to your personal fundraising page and collect cash and checks from people in your community. And remember, friends don’t let friends plunge alone! Be sure to get your friends, family, and co-workers involved.
STEP 3: Take the Plunge!
Bring your pledge form and/or a copy of your online pledges to your chosen Polar Plunge event. Turn in all offline donations, sign your waiver, and have a great time!
- Participants must raise a “bear” minimum of $75 for Special Olympics Indiana. All who raise the minimum are rewarded with an official event t-shirt, with additional Plunge Prizes and incentives available for those who go above and beyond.
- All participants must complete and submit a Release and Waiver of Liability.
- Plungers must be at least 12 years old on the day of the event day to enter the water. Those under the age of 18 must have a signature from a parent or guardian.
Need More Information?
Call us at 800-742-0612 or contact Scott Furnish with any questions.
What’s New in 2021?
This year’s Polar Plunge may look a bit different as precautions are taken to ensure the health and safety of all participants and spectators, but we remain just as committed to creating a fun and memorable experience as you are to helping our athletes discover the joy of inclusion and the thrill of competition through year-round participation in Special Olympics!
- Traditionally held in February and early March, the 2021 Polar Plunge season will take place across a longer period of time to best meet the needs of each venue. Some event dates are still to be determined.
- To limit crowds and to ensure social distancing guidelines can be followed while plunging, some Polar Plunge events will use segmented schedules with multiple plunge times spread throughout the day. Spectators will also be limited at all Polar Plunge events, with only guardians encouraged to attend. Other adjustments will be implemented on a case-by-case basis according to guidelines issued by local, county, and state government agencies.
- To better accommodate our supporters who wish to be a part of the fun without attending an in-person Polar Plunge event this year, a new and improved Virtual Plunger program will be offered. Find out below how to Earn Your Wings for Special Olympics Indiana this winter!
Be an Angel for Special Olympics Indiana and Earn Your Wings this Winter!
Taking the plunge for our athletes is about much more than jumping into freezing water; it’s about showing the world that you stand for inclusion and opportunity for thousands of people with intellectual disabilities throughout the state. New this year, we invite all at-home participants to Earn Your Wings for Special Olympics Indiana by raising money and awareness for our athletes in one of the following ways:
- Be an Angel for Special Olympics Indiana by dressing up or making a snow angel and sharing a photo on social media using the hashtag #EarnedMyWings. Be as creative as you like — use real snow, paint, chalk, or anything else you can think of — and be sure to upload your photos and videos here for a chance to win prizes! LEARN MORE AND REGISTER!
- Sign up at ITS YOUR RACE to participate in our first annual Polar Plunge Run and compete from home against others across the state. This brand new way to be Freezin’ for a Reason invites participants to complete a 5k or 10k anywhere and anytime during the 2021 Polar Plunge season. LEARN MORE AND REGISTER!
All participants in our 2021 virtual plunger program (either option) will be asked to pay a $25 registration fee, for which you’ll be rewarded with an official #EarnedMyWings decal to display on your car or anywhere else you like. Take your fundraising to the next level by raising an additional $50 ($75 total) and you’ll earn a custom #EarnedMyWings race medal to add to your trophy case!
Additional fundraising is encouraged, with incentives including race medals ($75), insulated tumblers ($300), beach towels ($500), and blankets ($1,000) available. Decals and race medals will be shipped when earned; all other incentives will be shipped at the conclusion of this event. See Plunge Prizes below for more information.
Health and Safety Notice for Participants and Attendees
In accordance with the most recent guidance issued by the Indiana State Department of Health and county health departments across the state, special measures will be taken to ensure that this year’s Polar Plunge does not pose an unnecessary risk to public health. All participants, volunteers, and other attendees are asked to adhere to the following policies and to all posted guidelines:
- Masks or face coverings are required to be worn at all times. Participants may remove their masks when entering the water but must cover their faces again upon exiting. Masks will be available and distributed to anyone who needs them.
- Spectators will not be permitted. Guardians may accompany minors or others needing supervision but will be required to sign a waiver and to adhere to the same health and safety protocols required of participants.
- Social distancing must be maintained at all times, even while outdoors. Signage and distance markers will be used to guide attendees through the check-in and staging processes while remaining at least six feet apart from one another.
- Capacity limits will be established and enforced at all Polar Plunge venues according to local guidelines. Guidelines are dependent upon local COVID-19 positivity rates and apply to all individuals in attendance (participants, guardians, volunteers, staff, et al). Additional restrictions may apply to any tents or indoor spaces in use, including changing areas. Participants are encouraged to arrive dressed ready to enter the water.
- All attendees will be subject to a health screening before entering through the main gate. Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (including cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat), or anyone who has been in contact with someone who is known to be COVID-positive within the past 14 days, should stay home and may not attend or participate. For contact tracing purposes, all attendees are required to provide a valid phone number.
The more you raise, the more we all win! All plungers who raise the $75 minimum will earn an official Polar Plunge long-sleeved t-shirt, to be presented on the day of your event. Additional fundraising prizes are awarded to those willing to raise a little more, with additional incentives earned at the $300, $500, $1,000, $2,000, and $3,000 levels. Instead of t-shirts, virtual participants can earn custom decals ($25), race finisher medals ($75), and other incentives at the $300, $500, $1,000, $2,000, and $3,000 levels. See what you could win!
NOTE: All Polar Plunge t-shirts and fundraising incentives will be presented at the Plunge. Earn Your Wings decals and medals will be shipped when earned. All other Earn Your Wings prizes will be shipped at the conclusion of the Polar Plunge season (March 31). Prizes are not cumulative.
A little effort offers fun rewards! Special awards in the following categories at each plunge:
- Best Costume*
- Most Money Raised by an Individual
- Most Money Raised by a Team
*Costume contests may not be held in 2021.
Knights of Columbus District Challenge
- District with most plungers overall
- District with most funds raised overall.
Prizes will be awarded at the Knights of Columbus convention in April.
Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Super Plunger?
Only for the bravest of souls and the warmest of hearts, the Super Plunger program dares participants to go above and beyond the call of duty. Do you have what it takes to be one of Indiana’s Super Plungers?
Here’s What it Takes:
- Raise at least $4,000 for Special Olympics athletes across the state
- Plunge at a minimum of two Plunge sites, one of which must be the Indy Plunge on March 6
Here’s What you Get:
- The joy (and bragging rights!) of being a Super Plunger…and a TOP supporter of Special Olympics Indiana
- VIP treatment at our Indy Plunge, including special recognition at our final After Splash Bash of the season
- Our top fundraising prize — a Super Plunger exclusive!
Five COOL Reasons to Take the Plunge
Join the #InclusionRevolution. Special Olympics Indiana is a nonprofit organization that works to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities in schools and communities across the state and throughout the world. Learn more.
State-wide impact. Since 1969, Special Olympics Indiana has grown to more than 18,000 athletes and Unified partners in virtually every county throughout the state.
Free, year-round athlete support. More than 10,000 coaches and volunteers help Special Olympics Indiana provide year-round sports, health, leadership, and education programs for children and adults with intellectual disabilities at no cost to the participants.
The money raised stays HERE. All proceeds from the Polar Plunge benefit Special Olympics athletes in your community, giving them the means to train locally and to participate in statewide programs and competitions.
Plunging is a blast! Dare yourself to take the plunge and have fun with your friends — while raising money for a great cause! It’s a win-win.
Dip Tips & FAQs
How Do I Raise Money? Polar Plunge pledges may be collected in person or online according to your preference. Some common strategies include sharing your personal FirstGiving link via email or social media and approaching family, friends, and even strangers to ask for support.
Do I Need a Team? Plunging as part of a group or team is always more fun, but individuals are more than welcome to join us in Freezin’ for a Reason! Groups of any size can register as a team, but only teams of 10 or more members are eligible for Team Awards.
What Should I Wear? It may be tempting to wear heavy clothing to combat the cold, but when it comes time to get in the water, swimsuits and light, fast-drying clothes are best. Remember to bring a towel/robe and a change of clothes. Water shoes or old gym shoes are also recommended.
What Should I Bring? Make sure to bring all cash, coins, and checks made payable to Special Olympics Indiana. Proof of online donations made through FirstGiving is not required, as staff on site will have access to those records.