More than 200 people jumped into 39-degree water Saturday at J&L Harley-Davidson in Sioux Falls to raise money for South Dakota Special Olympics. Together, more than $70,000 was raised, surpassing the 2018 fundraising goal.
Jim Ferguson, of the U.S. Army, jumped for the third year with his team, the Sioux Falls MEPS, dressed as Maui from Moana to match their Hawaiian theme.
“I’m still freezing,” Ferguson said, “but I’m freezing for a reason.”
Ferguson raised more than $1,800 for the cause. He enjoyed athletics and sports growing up, and said he doesn’t think anything should keep children from participating in the events he loved.
The Polar Plunge is an annual fundraising event put together by officers in the Law Enforcement Torch Run, a year-round fundraiser where officers across the state raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics.
More than $275,000 has been raised across the state, with two Polar Plunge event totals still being calculated. The funds raised support more than 2,000 athletes and 26 events across the state, according to Todd Bradwisch, vice president of Law Enforcement Torch Fun.
“Without events like this, Special Olympics wouldn’t be able to exist,” Bradwisch said.
This year was Bradwisch’s 199th jump, and he continues to sustain the polar temperatures so children and adults he’s worked with can continue to participate across the state.
But he also loves to see the costumes people wear at the Polar Plunge. Participants dressed in Luau costumes and patriotic ensembles this year — one person dressed as the Statue of Liberty.
Although Shannon Ward, a doula, didn’t dress up in costume for her jump, she still made the most of her second year jumping at the Polar Plunge.
“I love seeing the camaraderie and seeing people come together for the cause,” Ward said.
The 2018 Sioux Falls Polar Plunge partnered with J&L Harley-Davidson for a friendly competition between the Sioux Falls location and the Black Hills Harley-Davidson. The Rapid City Polar Plunge beat Sioux Falls by raising $93,000.
Even though Sioux Falls lost, Bradwisch is still excited to see how much was raised.
“That’s great. It’s the second highest done in Sioux Falls,” Bradwisch said.
The 2018 Polar Plunge was the 16th annual jump in Sioux Falls, the 50th year anniversary for the Special Olympics in South Dakota and 30th anniversary of the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
The next Special Olympics fundraising event through the Law Enforcement Torch Run is the Airplane Pull event July 14.
Past Plunge Results:
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