If you were going to be dive into 40-degree water, wouldn’t it be great if it were for a special reason? Local law enforcement, fire services, schools and the community did just that. The Special Olympics Louisiana hosted the 8th annual Polar Plunge on Saturday, Feb. 28 where over 175 participants plunged into the lake at Cabela’s to help raise over $70,000 that goes to the Special Olympics of Louisiana.
The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office Major Ward Webb served as the chairman of the event and said it’s always a great opportunity for the APSO to get involved in something “that’s bigger than any individual itself.”
“It gives us an opportunity to give back to the community and to the public and to give the Special Olympic athletes the inclusion, fair play and acceptance by all,” Major Webb said.
Before the participants plunged in the freezing water, Sheriff Jeff Wiley thanked the community for the support, and specially thanked Major Webb and called him, “Mr. Special Olympics.” Later on, Major Webb humbly said it’s not about him but about making sure everybody is treated fairly no matter the condition.
Casey Minton, Director of Internal Communications and Marketing, thanked Major Webb and the APSO who helped raise over $23,000 alone for the event.
“We give a special thanks to Sheriff Wiley and the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, Chief Carl Dabadie and the Baton Rouge Police Department, Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, LSU Police Department, Louisiana State Police, and all of our supporters, participants, and athletes for raising over $70,000,” Minton said.
Several law enforcement agencies participated including the Gonzales Police Department, Gonzales Fire Department, the Galvez-Lake Fire Department, the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, St. James Sheriff’s Office, Assumption Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Police, and the United States Marshal.
BRPD Chief Dabadie, who is the Louisiana Law Enforcement Torch Run State Director, said the Polar Plunge adds to the other events law enforcement does each year.
“The polar plunge is extra special because it is an unique event that we don’t really do a lot here in the south, but it intrigues a lot of people’s interest to come out and see what’s going on and it has built on itself every year,” Chief Dabadie said. “It just keeps growing and growing and growing. We want to keep it going. It’s a very good event because it raises a lot of money for us.”
Dabadie added, “A lot of times in law enforcement we get a bad mark on us, but we have so many officers that are doing events like this and other charities. These are the true things law enforcement does for the community.”
Law enforcement and fire protection weren’t the only agencies freeze for a reason. The East Ascension High School swim team plunged, and many families and supporters of Special Olympic athletes plunged as well.
Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux did not plunge, but he was there in full support and thanked the community for coming.
“It’s really important to us,” Mayor Arceneaux said.