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The 15th annual Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge to benefit the Special Olympics got off to a frigid start Sunday morning, as members of the Little Rock-Fox Fire Protection District arrived early to Silver Springs State Park to chisel a space for the plungers out of the ice covering Loon Lake.
Temperatures were much lower than the previous year, with about 4 to 8 inches of ice on the lake. Little Rock-Fox Assistant Chief Dave Jordan said it took officials about an hour to carve out a 30- by 30-foot space for plungers to use. The area was carpeted to help with traction, and Little Rock-Fox officials were stationed in the lake in protective gear to make sure that no participants slipped or went under the ice.
“This is all about fun, but it’s about safety, also,” Jordan said.
“I think it’s a little more intimidating for the plungers,” Amanda Nelson, Special Olympics Illinois area assistant director and director of the Yorkville Polar Plunge, said about the temperature, calling the ice “more extreme.”
“I think once they get out here, they know they’re here for a really awesome reason, so that helps, that benefits everyone,” she said.
Nelson praised the support that the program has received from the area community. Locally, Nelson said, with the spring games on the way, about 1,000 athletes will compete.
“We’ve got great community support, we’ve got incredible law enforcement support here out in this county,” Nelson said. “It’s overall really great. Everyone coming out for our athletes is really heartwarming, it’s great to be a part of.”
About 305 plungers made their way into Loon Lake on Sunday, including members of the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office, Montgomery Police Department, Oswego Police Department and Little Rock-Fox Fire Protection District.
23,000 athletes compete in Special Olympics Illinois, with proceeds from Polar Plunges going into a general fund to support the athletes across the state. The goal of Sunday’s plunge was to raise $100,000; the day’s total was $99,681.41, a number Nelson expects to grow and exceed the goal when all donations are collected.