Polar Plunge: Record funds open new doors to local athletes

(WEAU) - Freezin' for a Reason is what brave jumpers all across Wisconsin have been doing to raise funds for Special Olympics.

The Indianhead Region Director of Development of Special Olympics says it was a record year for the Polar Plunge.

Eau Claire plungers raised $190,000 so far and Menomonie plungers raised $30,000. But where how is the money used?

"It’s been a big, huge part of my life," said Rachel McNally, Special Olympics athlete.

For 36 year old Rachel McNally Special Olympics has opened the door to friends and sports the past 29 years.

“Softball, bowling, basketball, snowshoeing. If it wasn't here I'd say I'd be unpleasant, I would say angry frustrated,” said McNally.

She even remembers her first polar plunge jump.

"It was good, exciting, really exciting. Awesome. Spectacular," said McNally.

"It’s so rewarding to know that people get behind this kind of event and it takes months and months of planning and when you get to that day, you see people showing up and their turning in their donations. They're smiling," said Indianhead Region Director of Development, Karen Kraus.

Kraus says it’s a lot of work but the money raised helps athletes like Rachel participate and win over 100 medals.

"When we have this money raised, we're able to pay to put on tournaments. We're able to pay if we need to provide lunch to the athletes. We're able to pay new equipment. We're able to pay for the rental of court fees,” said Kraus.

"It's a lot, a lot of money, a lot of investments from that money," said McNally.

Although Polar Plunge may be over, there's still a lot of organizing and more organizing.

"You’re going from one event into the next event into the next event. And there's never really a lull that you say you’re bored,” said Kraus.

“I love it,” said McNally.

But no matter the work, it’s worth it for the volunteers and athletes.

"I think it will grow. I think Special Olympics will grow bigger and bigger and bigger," said McNally.

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