The Shops at Willow Lawn

Taking the Plunge

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You can help local Special Olympics Virginia athletes on Saturday at the annual RVA Polar Plunge Festival.

The fundraiser is set for noon to 4 p.m. at The Shops at Willow Lawn, 1601 Willow Lawn Drive. The event includes a parade of costumes, and the highlight of the day is a pool plunge.

It’s going to feel more like spring than winter, with a high temperature of 74 expected, which may take the sting out of the plunge. Then again, the temperature difference between the chilly water and the balmy air may make it feel even cooler.

The event also features a DJ, various vendors, ice sculptures, an inflatable slide, giant Jenga, Connect 4 and Pong. “We try to make it more of a festival for families,” says Holly Claytor, Special Olympics senior public relations director.

About 250 people participated in Richmond last year, and organizers expect a similar turnout for this year’s event. Plunges were held Feb. 3-4 in Virginia Beach and on Feb. 18 in Radford. A plunge also will be staged on Saturday in Dumfries. The first plunge was staged 25 years ago in Virginia Beach. This is the third year for the Richmond event.

You can take the plunge with a donation of $100 and up. You can register online, or on site up to plunge time. Raise $100, and you get an event T-shirt; raise more and you can earn more swag. There’s also a school challenge for students in grades 3-12 and a collegiate challenge.

Polar plunges account for about a quarter of the annual budget for Special Olympics in Virginia. The events collectively raised about $1.2 million in 2016. The nonprofit’s largest fundraiser is its Law Enforcement Torch Runs held at various times throughout the state. “They allow us to do what we do,” says Claytor.

Learn more or register at 726-3023.