Chattanoogans plunge for Special Olympics athletes - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanoogans plunge for Special Olympics athletes

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Many Chattanoogan's took a plunge for a good cause Saturday. 

Special Olympics Tennessee kicked off their annual Chattanooga Polar Plunge at Finley Stadium, to help athletes compete and succeed in several sports throughout the Tennessee Valley. 

The event helps more than 16,000 Special Olympic athletes statewide through fund raising and the community's support. 

About 51 plungers braved 5,300 gallons of ice cold water in a pool 4 1/2 ft. deep. 

Tennessee American Water donated the water and local firefighters helped fill the pool.

Despite the freezing water and body shock, pros and first-timers shared the waves and support for Special Olympic athletes one jump at a time. 

"It's amazing to see how much people simply love the athletes. They want them to have the opportunity to compete, and so they'll do crazy things like jump in a cold pool in the middle of February," said Chattanooga's Special Olympic Coordinator, Jennifer McAfee. 

McAfee said the event is one of the city's biggest, and most important fundraisers for Special Olympic athletes in Tennessee. 

"This is really what pays for them to participate. This is what covers the cost so they're not paying to be a part of Special Olympics, so it really is a big deal."

Each plunger had to raise a minimum of $50 ($40 for students) and received the official long-sleeved Plunge t-shirt, and a complimentary lunch from Chicken Salad Chick. 

"You create your fund raising page. You ask people to help you raise the money, so it's an easy raise," McAfee said. "People get excited about it and they talk about why they're doing it and that's a big question I always ask." 

Though the answer to that question varies, plungers agreed on one thing. 

"It's a great feeling to know that we're so supportive of our community, and just Chattanooga as a whole is really supportive of anything that brings people together and  I love to be a part of something that specifically brings this population of people together," said Assistant Director of Special Olympics Tennessee and first-time plunger, Beth Webb. 

Organizers set out to raise $20,000. 60 percent of the money raised will stay in the Chattanooga area and be divvied up to support Special Olympic athletes in Hamilton, Bledsoe, Bradley, Grundy, Marion, McMinn, Polk, Rhea and Sequatchie Counties. 

For more information about other Polar Plunges in Tennessee , click here.

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