There were sunny skies above but the water temperatures were still plenty chilly in Folsom Lake Saturday morning for those participating in the 2024 Polar Plunge. The frigid waters didn’t daunt those gathered at Brown’s Ravine, as “took the plunge to benefit Special Olympics of Northern California. 

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Polar Plunge events take place annually in numerous cities this time of year to assist the various chapters of the Special Olympics in its mission to “encourage inclusion and change the way people treat individuals with intellectual disabilities.” 

Saturday was the second year the event at Folsom Lake included a 5K trail run, which saw even more participants than last year. Some participants took part in the run, others took part in the plunge and many participated in both activities. 

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The trails around Folsom Lake were still damp and soft from the storm earlier in the week and the water temperature of Folsom Lake was measured at 51-degrees Saturday morning. Those conditions didn’t really matter, because everyone in attendance was there for a great cause and to have fun while benefitting that great cause. 

Much like it has in the past, participants in this year’s event ranged from individuals to large groups, or “workplace plungers,” which are large groups of co-workers of various area businesses who join the cause. As usual, the event drew a large amount of first-responders and law enforcement participants from Sacramento, Placer and El Dorado Counties.

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By the time the event was “This is such an amazing event each year to support such a great cause,” said attendee Robert Dickinson of Citrus Heights who has either attended or participated in the event each year. “To see all these people come out in the rain like this, including our local police, fire and media, that just speaks volumes for how much the community cares and supports Special Olympics.”

Following the 5K run and prior to the ceremonial mad dash and dip into the lake, a variety if activities too place in the parking area of Folsom Lake Marina from a variety of games, costume contests, a variety of vendor booths from numerous local agencies and community businesses and more. The annual event is always well supports by area law enforcement and fire agencies, from El Dorado County, Sacramento County and Placer County. 

Saturday’s event was far from any belly flop when it came to fundraising, in fact, it was a splashing success. A total of 294 individual registered for the event which included 29 team participants. At last check, the event raised $97,324.00, which was the product of 1,282 donations. 

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Many dressed in costumes and others dressed in their first responders uniforms were the highlight of the event as they took turns sprinting from the shoreline to plunge into the waters. While the chill was a shocking surprise that yielded screams by many as they hit the water, all of the participants exited those same waters laughing and having a great time as they completed their task at hand, one that that will help bring similar smiles to those with disabilities in the year to come through many events and programs.

Following their “plunge,” participants were treated to a lunch where they enjoyed socializing and sharing their views on just how cold the water was with fellow participants, law enforcement and other community leaders.

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Those who may have missed the opportunity to participate in the event can still donate to Special Olympics of Northern California. Visit their official website at www.sonc.org.

Photos by Catherine Hayne

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan