On Saturday, February 22, 2019, APSU’s students and community came out to the Foy Fitness and Recreation Center’s pool for the annual polar plunge, an event fundraising for Tennessee Special Olympics.
This was the second year that TN Special Olympics has returned to APSU after taking a break from the event.
“After several years of a Clarksville Polar Plunge hiatus, this was our 2nd year returning to Austin Peay’s Foy Recreational Center,” vice president of marketing and development for TN Special Olympics, Amy Parker said.
Parker began her involvement with TN Special Olympics just eight years ago.
“I have been a part of the Special Olympics Tennessee organization for almost 8 years. I started as a general volunteer,” Parker said. “[I] later served on the Board of Directors and then transitioned as a staff member in 2017. I have personally plunged with my family (kids included) for the past 6 years.”
The polar plunge is an event where members of the community and APSU students come out to the Foy Fitness Center’s pool and jump in frigid water for charity.
“I believe the water temperature was just below 50 degrees,” Parker said.
The event included not just the plunge itself, but also a costume contest, where the East Cheatham Water Dragons won the title.
In order to participate, there were minimum donation requirements.
“[There is a] minimum donation of $30 for students and $50 for non-students,” Parker said. “This is a peer-to-peer fundraising event and the minimum amount covers the costs for an individual plunger.”
The donation is necessary because the polar plunge is essentially a fundraiser for the TN Special Olympics.
“This is a peer-to-peer fundraising event and the minimum amount covers the costs for an individual plunger,” Parker said. “The funds raised will go directly to program costs which include traditional sports competition, free health screenings, athlete leadership opportunities, young athlete programs and unified sports.”
At the event, TN Special Olympics recognized the top donator of the morning.
“We do award prizes for top fundraiser (David Crockarell) and the top fundraising team (Clarksville Police Department),” Parker said.
The Clarksville Police Department was crucial in the returning of the event to APSU.
“None of this would be possible without the support of Clarksville Police Department and Austin Peay,” Parker said, “The Clarksville Police Department have really stepped up over the last two years to support Special Olympics. They are truly the Guardians of the Flame for our athletes.”
The TN Special Olympics works to provide fun and exciting contests and games for people of various disabilities.
“Special Olympics is free for all participants. It is the unique relationships with law enforcement and events such as the Polar Plunge that ensure we can continue to serve over 17,000 athletes across the state,” Parker said. “These programs are vital to the health and well-being of individuals with an intellectual disability.”
In the two years since their return, the polar plunge has raised a generous sum of money for TN Special Olympics.
“Both years have raised just shy of $10,000 for Special Olympics Tennessee,” Parker said.