A frosty fundraiser for Special Olympics
RADFORD — Batman, a couple of luchadores and the Radford men’s soccer team were among more than 300 people who decided that Saturday was a perfect day to go for a dip in the 36-degree waters of the New River.
Though their choices of festive swimwear varied, their motivation to partake in Radford’s fourth-annual Highlander Polar Plunge was most often one in the same.
“It’s a chance to raise money for Special Olympics,” plunger Ric D’Intino said, while doing his best impersonation of the main character from the film “Nacho Libre.”
D’Intino and his fellow plungers together raised roughly $32,000 for Special Olympics Virginia, according to Southwest Section Director Nancy Morehouse.
The funds from the event, which was hosted by the Radford City Police Department, will support the nonprofit organization’s year-round sports programs.
According to the event’s website, over the past 20 years, similar plunges across the state have raised more than $7.5 million for Special Olympics Virginia.
The Radford version of the plunge began in 2010 when 100 plungers raised close to $8,000 for the cause in conjunction with Radford University’s 100th anniversary, Morehouse said.
Radford Police Department Cpl. Emily Hite, who has played a large part in organizing and fundraising for the event each year, said the turnout for the 2013 edition was by far the largest in Radford.
“It warms your heart to know you’re helping these kids,” Hite said.
A minimum donation of $30 earned anyone willing the opportunity to take the plunge off Dudley’s Landing ramp Saturday. Individuals and groups also could raise more money through donations.
Morehouse estimated that along with the hundreds of plungers, as many as 2,000 donors chipped in for this year’s total. She said that while the organization would benefit from these funds, it also benefited from the extra exposure the widespread fundraising generated.
“They’re touching people in ways we have no other way to touch,” Morehouse said.
The “Chillbillies,” a group of Virginia Tech co-workers and Radford University alumni, took the honor as the top fundraising group by collecting $7,535. Sara Perks was the top fundraising participant, having gathered $1,820 for the organization.
Perks credited her team, the “Frozen Junior Margaritas,” which represented the Blacksburg Junior Women’s Club, with helping her achieve the high figure.
While excited to be the top donor, Perks seemed just as excited to hit the water.
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