Polar Plunge returns with a new format, even freezing water | Community News

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QUINCY — The University of Quincy soccer field was the site of the 2022 Special Olympics Polar Dive, returning on Saturday after a year of mostly virtual attendance.

Rob Queenan, assistant regional director for Special Olympics Illinois Region H, said the location for this year’s event was chosen to make coordinating the event a little easier and to help bring attendance back to the levels of before the pandemic.

“We wanted to involve the college a bit more, so this is a great facility for us as we continue to grow numbers,” Queenan said. “We can have everything in one place, so I think we’ll keep trying to do that. Obviously it’s the first year, so we’ll tweak some things, make it better for everyone.”

“I think it’s an easier logistical setup,” said Adam Yates, deputy chief of administration at the Quincy Police Department. “There were a lot of people doing the Plunge at the park, and it’s great for fundraising, but it’s hard to organize it, with buses coming in, things like that. Regarding bringing people in here, bringing them in, and bringing people through, that’s a better setup.

“Having said that,” Yates continued, “I’ve always loved the lake. When there was ice in the water while we were jumping in, it just gave a little more credence to the fact that it was acted like a polar dive. But the water was very cold today, I don’t think we had any problems there.”

The roster of jumpers included about 10 teams, including several made up of groups from QU’s athletics department. However, several of those teams were unable to travel on Saturday due to out-of-town games they had scheduled. Despite everything, we were a few dozen divers who took turns in the swimming pool that the Quincy firefighters had set up.

The first team in the icy water was the “Copsicles”, made up of QPD officers and Adams County Sheriff’s Department deputies.

“Law enforcement has always had such a strong relationship with Special Olympics, which is why we do it,” Yates said. “We do it for the athletes. We want to support them and anything anyone can do to support Special Olympics, I think they should.”

Queenan said raising awareness of the Special Olympics in general is one of her jobs, and an event like Saturday’s Polar Plunge is only part of that job.

“We have things going on all the time,” he said. “There’s an awareness issue, so we’re trying to spread the word. A lot of people think Special Olympics is an event, but we have 18 different sports that we participate in, there’s the US Games that people will go to, events like this help pay. We just want to get the community involved again and run bigger and better events.

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