More than 600 people plunged into the Willamette River Saturday and helped raise $55,000 for Special Olympics Oregon — both records for the Corvallis event.
More than 50 teams helped set the record for participation and funds raised for the Corvallis Polar Plunge, which is held annually at the Crystal Lake Boat Ramp. In addition to setting a record, Saturday’s turnout far surpassed the turnout from 2016 and 2015 which brought together roughly 400 participants each year. The $55,000 raised was also significant leap from last year, which raised nearly $38,000, and the year before, which raised about $32,000.
“Last year we had a very good year, and this is a huge improvement,” said Sgt. Joel Goodwin of the Corvalils Police Department, whiich helped organize the event. “I’m just amazed that we continue to grow every year. Clearly we’re doing something right.”
Goodwin joined the rest of the Corvallis Copsicles as the first team to plunge into the chilly Willamette River. Many participants said the water was much colder in previous years, but Goodwin said he didn’t feel a thing.
“I guess I’m just so excited seeing this that the adrenaline has created this numbing effect,” he said. “I think police officers want to make a real, tangible difference. Seeing everything today, it’s clear this is a real way to make a huge difference in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.”
After taking the plunge, Goodwin ran up to his 14-year-old son Connor, a fellow plunger who raised more than $1,000 for the event, and gave him a huge hug.
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“I started doing this awhile back in Bend and he really wanted to join with me and he’s been doing it seven years now,” Goodwin said.
Connor said the event offered him a chance to do something crazy and something good at the same time.
“I feel awesome doing it, but also really cold at the same time,” Connor said. “We raised a lot of money for Special Olympics and that feels the best.”
Saturday’s plunge marked the first for Benco, the Corvallis nonprofit organization that provides housing, support services and training to people with disabilities. Benco’s Bryn Weigel, who dressed as Batman, said she was eager to get involved.
“I’m not sure my costume made a whole lot of a difference. It was pretty cold, but not as cold as I thought it was going to be,” Weigel said. “It’s a lot of fun and a really good cause. Benco helps people with disabilities and that’s something we do every day.”
Special Olympics Oregon provides sports training and athletic competition year-round to more than 13,000 participants with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics serves the largest disability population in Oregon with 15 “Olympic-type” sports at 29 statewide regional competitions and three state games — all at no cost to the athletes and their families. More information on the program and how to get involved can be found at www.soor.org.