Annual Polar Plunge Takes on Added Meaning this Winter

by | Jan 14, 2019 | Press Room

Thousands expected to participate in signature fundraiser with a goal of raising more than $1 million to sustain the organization’s rapid growth and to support 50th anniversary initiatives.

INDIANAPOLIS — There are a lot of ways to raise money for charitable causes, but taking the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Indiana might be the single most exciting.

Hearts pumping and extremities freezing, thousands of supporters of all ages have felt the rush of making a difference by making a cold-weather splash in the name of raising money to support year-round programs and events for people with intellectual disabilities. There are costumes, music, and food. “Freezin’ for a Reason,” as the motto goes, is more fun than it looks.

But like all Special Olympics events, the Polar Plunge is about much more than fun: it’s about inclusion, equality, and empowerment. As the organization’s signature fundraiser for the last 20 years, this annual tradition has played a vital role in ensuring that an ever-growing number of children and adults with intellectual disabilities can continue to benefit from no-cost participation in life-changing sports, health, education, and leadership programs.

“We recognize that this is a special moment in our history and we’re planning big things for both our 50th anniversary and for the future of the Special Olympics movement in Indiana,” said President and CEO Jeff Mohler. “The Polar Plunge is our most important fundraiser each year, and we know that—in order for us to reach our goals and to involve even more people who could benefit from our services—our supporters around the state will need to pull together this winter to raise more than ever before.”

A total of 18 Polar Plunge events are scheduled for February and March in cities and on college campuses across Indiana. Plunge sites include: Boonville, Borden, Bloomington, Fort Wayne, Greenwood, Indianapolis (Butler University and Eagle Creek Park), Kokomo, Liberty, Muncie, Petersburg, South Bend, Terre Haute, Valparaiso, Versailles, Warsaw, and West Lafayette. View the 2019 Polar Plunge Calendar.

Celebrating 50 years of changing lives in 2019 and now serving more than 16,000 people across the state each year, Special Olympics Indiana is aiming to raise at least $1 million through the 2019 Polar Plunge season for the first time in its history. All funds raised will directly benefit current and future Special Olympics athletes.

To learn more about the 50th anniversary Polar Plunge or to register or make a contribution in support of a participating individual or team, visit www.PolarPlungeIN.org.

Teams, Prizes, and More


  • 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.


  • The majority of Polar Plunge participants register as part of a team, often representing a business, school, family, fraternity/sorority, church group, or sports team. Teams of 10 or more are eligible for team awards.


  • All individuals who raise at least $75 are rewarded with an official Polar Plunge long-sleeved t-shirt. Other prizes this year will include branded towels, Sherpa blankets, insulated tumblers, hoodies, and jackets, each awarded at a certain fundraising level. View all 2019 Polar Plunge Prizes.

Campus Challenge


  • Polar Plunge events will be held on six Indiana campuses in 2019, including Purdue, IU, Butler, Indiana State, Ball State, and Valparaiso. All campus events are open to the community as well.


  • Committees made up of students and volunteers at each school lead the charge to host the best campus event, with the top fundraising school earning the right to keep a traveling trophy at the end of each Polar Plunge season.

Other Ways to Support the Polar Plunge


  • Those who are unable or unwilling to participate in the Polar Plunge are encouraged to fundraise as “Virtual Plungers” or to donate on behalf of a participating individual or team. Volunteers are also needed to organize and staff each event.


  • Individuals who go above and beyond in their efforts to support the Polar Plunge by raising a minimum of $4,000 are eligible to be recognized as “Super Plungers.” Fifteen individuals earned this distinction in 2018.


  • Corporate and civic leaders, public figures, and others in positions of authority are invited to be a part of the Executive Challenge, with each raising or contributing a minimum of $5,000 before taking the Polar Plunge in Indianapolis. Those interested may contact Kelly Ries for more information.


  • The Polar Plunge is presented by the Law Enforcement Torch Run® to benefit Special Olympics Indiana. Companies and other organizations can support the Polar Plunge through corporate sponsorships or employee matching programs. Gold level sponsors of the 2019 Polar Plunge include Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana and Duke Energy.

Special Olympics Indiana is a nonprofit organization that is a part of the global Special Olympics movement, using sport, health, education, and leadership programs every day around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1969 and celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Special Olympics Indiana has grown to more than 16,000 athletes and unified partners in virtually every county throughout the state. With the support of nearly 10,000 coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics Indiana provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in more than 20 Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities at no cost to the participants. Learn more by visiting www.soindiana.org.


Nathan Barnes, Manager of Grants & Communication | (317) 328-2008

Scott Furnish, Sr. Director of Development | (317) 328-2009

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