Special Olympics event organizers have convinced hundreds of people to take the Polar Plunge into the San Francisco Bay on Feb. 28 - including Danville Police Chief Chris Wenzel. Wenzel will be joined by other officers on the town's plunge team called "Danville PD Divers."
The event is raising money for Special Olympics Northern California so that thousands of athletes with developmental disabilities can continue to train and compete in 2009. Individuals and teams are invited to sign up now.
"Every year we run the Torch Run (to kick off the Special Olympics) but this is something new," said Wenzel. He said about six officers will be taking the plunge.
"We're considering swim trunks or costumes - not a wet suit. My guys are not going to wimp out," he added with a laugh.
Special Olympic athlete and Danville resident Christy Dodge will also take part in the plunge.
"Special Olympics has changed my life," said Dodge. "I have made lots of friends, I can stay healthy through sports training, and it's nice to be in an environment where I am accepted, not judged. I hope more of Danville's great people will support our Danville Plunge Team."
Polar Plunge participants get donations from people who sponsor them to enter the chilly water. To participate, visit www.sonc.org/polarplunge and click on the San Francisco location. Then look for the Danville PD Divers to join the team or to donate.
"Special Olympics has made it easy to donate," said Wenzel. "We've all e-mailed people. Our goal is to raise $10,000 and we're halfway there."
"We wanted to create a memorable and fun event for people to experience something new while raising money to continue our Special Olympics program in the Bay Area," said Mary Beth McMahon, executive vice president of Special Olympics Northern California.
Although plungers are not required to totally submerge, they must register for the activity and sign a waiver. They also take precautionary safety measures, including wearing shoes to protect their feet from debris.
"If I'm getting up early and going all the way to San Francisco, I'm going to go all the way in," Wenzel said.
The "Freezin' for a Reason" 2009 Polar Plunge will begin at noon, Saturday, Feb. 28, at Crissy Field in San Francisco. The event will include entertainment, a costume contest, awards and prizes. Registration begins at 10 a.m., followed by a parade of costumes at noon. The event concludes at 1 p.m. with a post-plunge party.
To learn more, visit www.sonc.org/polarplunge or call 944-0594, ext 232.
Polar Plunges also will be held at Millerton Lake in Fresno and Noyo Beach at Fort Bragg on Feb. 28. A fourth Polar Plunge will take place March 21 at Zephyr Cove, South Lake Tahoe.