News Article Details

Freezin' for a reason

Greensburg Daily News - 2/1/2019

Feb. 01--VERSAILLES -- The Polar Plunge and After Splash Bash at Versailles State Park is set for Feb. 16.

Quickly becoming "the" official Special Olympics fundraiser for Decatur and surrounding counties, it's one in a series of 18 Plunge events held throughout the state during Indiana's coldest month of the year.

All proceeds from the Versailles Plunge benefit Special Olympics athletes in our community, giving them the means to train locally and to compete at the state, national, and international levels in a number of Olympic-type sports.

The Polar Plunge is the signature Special Olympics Indiana fundraiser. Since its inception, Hoosiers have raised more than $3.4 million making the Polar Plunge the largest fundraising event benefiting Special Olympics in the state.

Plunge participants, raising a minimum of $75 in pledges, take a quick dip in the ice cold lake at Versailles State Park, often dressing up in costume to make this "bucket list" activity as memorable as possible.

Participants must be at least 12 years old on the day of the Plunge. Participants under the age of 18 must have a signature from a parent or guardian; the waiver can be downloaded at

This event is open to the public and all spectators are welcome free of charge.

The Polar Plunge and After Splash Bash is a family-friendly festival with music, food, basket raffle, displays and other vendors.

Decatur County Special Olympics Coordinator Jenny Maddux explained the event.

"Each plunger needs to raise a minimum of $75 to participate," she said. "We are part of Area 9 of Special Olympics. The finances are on a 50/50 split basis, which means that of the pledge monies we raise 50 percent goes to the statewide organization and 50 percent stays in Decatur County to help us in Decatur County. We use those funds to buy new uniforms or new equipment for our athletes."

Listed on the Decatur County Special Olympics Facebook page ( are the names of the Decatur County Polar Plunge team.

"If anyone wants to sponsor one of our teammates, they can reach out to them on Facebook, or, if they know one, they can contact them personally and sponsor them. Donors can also send a message via our Facebook page, and I will coordinate that donation," Maddux said.

2019 Polar Plunge teammates are Greensburg Police Chief Brendan Bridges, Lindsey Walters-Thomas, Brad Kiel, Christina Bates, Jessica Rehberger, Brian Bokelman, Cindy Taskey, Cheyenne Lee, Sandra Sneed, and Derrick Barnes.

"Even though Chief Bridges has been involved in the plunge for many years, it's especially near and dear to his heart because his son Jackson was diagnosed with autism," Maddux said.

When asked if there would be a make-up date for the event in case of inclement weather, Maddux said probably not.

"If the event is cancelled, the money will still go to Special Olympics and Decatur County will still get their 50 percent split," she said.

As an incentive for competing in the Polar Plunge, other than bragging rights and the memories made at the event, Maddux explained, "For a lot of these athletes, they do it because it's their thing," she said. "They simply enjoy it, and they enjoy the competitive angle of it."

Maddux explained that two of the Polar Plunge team members, Sandra Sneed and Derrick Thomas, compete simply for the joy of being together.

"Sandra and Derrick are mother and son, and they do this for no other reason than it gives them a way to spend time together," she said.

Maddux confessed that she participated in the Polar Plunge two years in a row.

"I got lucky, because in those two years the temperature was above freezing, so it wasn't like today with sub-zero temperatures," she said. "But if you think about it, our plunge is at Versailles State Park in natural water. Some of the university teams that participate just fill a pool with water and dive in. At Versailles, they chop holes in the ice with chainsaws and chisel out a large area for us to plunge into. And that water is so cold -- well, it's an experience," she said, laughing. "But I feel like I've done my part, so I passed my torch on to someone else!"

Chief Bridges participates for his own reasons.

"I do it because it brings awareness to people with disabilities, plus all the donations go to help them here and all over the state," he said. "And not many people realize that there's a large percentage of people with special needs that are not wearing the size or type of shoe they should be. They also get supplied with free dental and medical check-ups during the summer games, too. A lot of the year, they can't get that kind of help any other way, so that's another reason I support it."

Bridges explained that his father, Bob Bridges, a former chief of police and mayor in Rushville, competed when the March of Dimes organization sponsored such events for individuals with disabilities.

"My dad did it for years, and that's how I became familiar with it," the chief said. "As far as the temperature of the water, it's actually not that cold. When you come out of the water, the air temperature is usually warmer than the water, so your body automatically warms up when you get out. I usually wear just a pair of long pants and a long sleeve shirt. It's awesome, and a really good time!"

Special Olympics Indiana is a not-for-profit 501c3 organization that provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in more than 20 Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, reaching nearly 14,000 athletes across Indiana.

Special Olympics Indiana is part of the international network of accredited Special Olympics programs that reaches more than 4 million athletes with intellectual disabilities worldwide.

Special Olympics Indiana receives no federal- or state-appropriated funds, is not a United Way Agency, and relies entirely on corporate, civic and individual donations.

Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-663-3111, ext. 7011 or email at

Polar Plunge Schedule

10 a.m. -- 10:45 a.m. Polar Climb Registration

11 a.m. -- Polar Climb 5K Run/3K Walk

11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. -- Polar Plunge Registration

1:30 p.m. -- Costume Contest

2 p.m.- Polar Plunge

3 p.m. -- Awards/Sponsor Recognition

4:00 p.m. Basket Raffle Winners Announced

Polar Climb 5K Run/3K Walk

Pre-Registration by Feb. 8 Fee: $25

After Feb. 8/Day of Event: $30

Incentive: Receive Polar Climb t-shirt if registration and fee is received by Feb. 8th

Online Registration:

Each Walker/Runner/Plunger is required to check-in and sign a waiver day of event. Any Plunger that has not pre-registered, may do so at


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