GREENWOOD, S.C. (WSPA)- From seeing the successful turnout of hundreds of residents piling into Greenwood State Park on Saturday afternoon, you would never know it was the first year this event was put together.
What’s even more surprising, is that all of these people were here to jump into freezing February water. But what they share besides bravery, is their reason for coming.
“This is what makes South Carolina a great place to be the community, everybody cares, everybody loves their neighbors it doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, or where you come from, they’re all out here to support the Special Olympics and that’s what we’re excited about,” said Sgt. Jonathan Link, Greenwood Sheriff’s Office.
Ashley Bond has been involved with Special Olympics for 30 years and has competed in two national Olympic games. It’s events like these that she and her mom said showcase to others how important the organization’s sense of community is.
“If everybody would just come out one time and see the polar plunge or whatever activities we have they would see what it’s all about really,” said Gloria Bond, Ashley’s mom.
Barry Coats, the president of Special Olympics South Carolina, said while this may be the first year Greenwood has put a polar plunge together, the results were rare.
“I know they got the sheriff and the chief to go in, you don’t see that a whole lot when the sheriff and chief go in together around the state, so any time you see that happen you know the community’s behind it,” said Barry Coats, president, and CEO of Special Olympics South Carolina.
The day began with a costume contest to break the ice and loosen up the crowd before their chilling dip, which plungers said turned out to be tolerable.
Special Olympics said celebrations like these are fun for the Olympians, but also police officers and deputies too.
“They see a lot of the worst of the world and when they get on our side, they get to see a lot of the best of the world so, you know, I think that’s just a good outlet for our law enforcement guys and they all have a huge heart,” said Coats. “They wouldn’t be in law enforcement if they didn’t.”
A total of $20,000 was raised, and while the bond between law enforcement and Special Olympics is what sparked the idea for the plunge, it’s what they said will now make this event an annual tradition.