AP NEWS

Take the Plunge: Annual Polar Plunge supports Special Olympians, families

January 30, 2019

Nebraska State Patrol Sgt. Chris Baer and fellow troopers are tossing out ideas for costumes — not for Halloween, but the upcoming Polar Plunge.

Baer has been among troopers braving the icy waters of the North Platte River each year to take a dip for the annual Polar Plunge on Feb. 23.

“We haven’t decided on a theme,” Baer said, noting that the Nebraska State Patrol often comes up with some good, fun costumes for the event. “We’ve got some ideas floating around.”

The team has dressed as a rock band, characters from Star Wars, 101 Dalmatians and even Frozen.

The event is a mainly about the kids who are in Special Olympics, a cause that touches Baer personally.

“There is not a group of kids who are more deserving of our support,” he said of the Special Olympians in the Panhandle. “It is a really good bonding time to show support for the athletes and their families. There is nothing better. I get a lot of enjoyment out of it.”

For those considering taking the Polar Plunge, Baer admits, “It’s cold. We do it in February — it’s bound to be cold. It’s not called the ‘Tropical Plunge’ for a reason.”

However, he said, “It’s not as big of a sacrifice as it sounds.” The jump in the water is quick — and once plungers get out, they get to enjoy warming up in hot tubs donated by a local business. Other amenities, such as changing tents offered by the National Guard, offer a good experience, he said. Afterward, people gather together for a meal hosted by the Special Olympics athletes and their families and awards are given. Prizes will be awarded for raising pledges and creativity.

Potential plungers can start fundraising now. Polar Plunge information, registration forms and contact information are located on the Scotts Bluff County’s homepage at www.scottsbluffcounty.org. The same information is available at the Special Olympics Nebraska website, www.sone.org. Many individuals and teams get ahead of fundraising by using the Firstgiving page, https://www.firstgiving.com/sone, Baer said.

The Polar Plunge committee encourages individual and team participation. Each plunger is asked to raise at least $50 in donations. Incentives begin with $75 in donations.

Anyone with questions is welcome to call Baer, 308-632-1251.