Polar Plunge

Scott Friesen, director of fundraising and signature events with Special Olympics Oregon; Madison Kuther, director of partnerships; and Brian Owen, CEO of the Seaside Chamber of Commerce.

Ready to brave the 40-degree temperature of Coffenbury Lake?

Special Olympics Oregon hosts the Polar Plunge on Jan. 29, a tradition of plunging into frigid waters with the goal to raise awareness for Special Olympics Oregon.

Scott Friesen, director of fundraising and signature events, and Madison Kuther, director of partnerships, joined the Seaside Chamber of Commerce last Wednesday for a presentation on the event.

“We are a worldwide global movement that focuses on advancing inclusion and awareness of children and adults with intellectual disability through the joy of sport,” Friesen said.

Although accredited through Special Olympics North America, Special Olympics Oregon is independent of the national organization. “We’re all local here in the state office and oversee everything from programs, coaches, athletes, everything across the states, as well as all of our signature events.”

Each county has a local program coordinator, coaches, trainers, coaches, recruits athletes, hosts local trainings and competitions, Friesen said. “We offer 14 Olympic-style sports throughout the year. Typically, we would do summer, fall and winter games that have different sports from bowling, bocce ball. Alpine skiing, swimming and aquatics.”

The polar plunge is the largest signature event for Special Olympics Oregon, he said.

The event takes place at Coffenbury Lake in Warrenton. In conjunction with Hood to Coast, participants may opt to participate in a 5K or 10K run with check-in at 9 a.m. The plunge takes place at 11 a.m., with supervision by the U.S. Coast Guard in a roped-off area. More than 50 people have signed up so far.

“Our goal is to get to 100 plungers this year,” Friesen said. “We are optimistic that we can surpass that goal.”

It is “horrible at times,” he acknowledged. “We do it because it raises money and awareness for athletes. That’s the ‘challenge’ piece of it.”

If you don’t want to plunge yourself, there are other options, Kuther said. “You can latch on to someone who is actually going to plunge and advocate through them. You can still feel like you’re a part of the event and not have to jump in.”

With the “hibernate” option, you can donate $50 and sleep in if you don’t want to plunge, Friesen added.

For more information or to sign up, visit https://soor.org/fundraising-events/polar-plunge-2022/.

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