Thousands set to Participate in Annual Polar Plunge to Benefit Special Olympics Indiana

by | Jan 16, 2020 | Press Room

Signature cold-weather fundraiser supports year-round programs for people with intellectual disabilities.

INDIANAPOLIS —Special Olympics Indiana invites supporters to raise money and awareness this winter by taking part in one or more of its 2020 Polar Plunge events, to be held on college campuses and at public parks across Indiana in February and March.

As the organization’s signature fundraiser for more than 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.

A total of 18 Polar Plunge events will be held this winter, with participants taking an icy dip to demonstrate their commitment to the cause in Boonville, Borden, Bloomington, Fort Wayne, Greenwood, Indianapolis (Butler University and Eagle Creek Park), Muncie, North Manchester, Petersburg, South Bend, Terre Haute, Valparaiso, Versailles, and West Lafayette. For details and a complete calendar of events, visit

“We continue to be amazed and overwhelmed by the outpouring of support Special Olympics Indiana receives through the Polar Plunge each year,” said President & CEO Jeff Mohler. “It takes a special person to not only raise money and awareness for our athletes, but to do it by jumping into freezing water. And we’re fortunate to know a lot of those special people.”

More than 3,000 individuals are again expected to take the plunge this year, each raising a minimum of $75. To date, the Polar Plunge has generated more than $7 million in support of Special Olympics Indiana’s year-round programs and events, including more than $900,000 in 2019.

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

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, coolers, water bottles, jackets, and luggage, each awarded at a certain fundraising level. Learn more by visiting
Students Lead the Way
  • “Campus Challenge” Polar Plunge events will be held at seven universities in 2020, including Purdue, IU, Butler, Indiana State, Ball State, Manchester, and Valparaiso.
  • Committees made up of students and volunteers at each school will lead the charge to host the best campus event, with the top fundraising school earning the right to keep a traveling trophy.
  • Special Friday morning Polar Plunge events targeted at high school students will be held in Boonville (Jan. 31), Fort Wayne (Feb. 7), and Indianapolis (March 6), with local schools sending busloads of students to participate.
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.” Nineteen individuals earned this distinction in 2019.
  • 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 sponsorships or employee matching programs. Gold-level sponsors of the 2020 Polar Plunge include Toyota Motor Manufacturing and Duke Energy.

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Special Olympics Indiana is a nonprofit organization that is part of the global Special Olympics movement, using sport, health, education, and leadership programs everyday around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities. We are a sports organization that uses the power of sport as a catalyst for social change, working for more than 50 years to open hearts and minds toward people with intellectual disabilities and to create inclusive communities across the state. With the support of over 10,000 coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics Indiana provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for more than 18,000 athletes and unified partners at no cost to the participants.


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

Stephanie Manner, Director of Special Events | (317) 713-4291