Mesquite resident, Bill Boope, takes the plunge for Special Olympics in a belly dancer’s costume which did nothing to shield him from the icy watersbut made a huge splash in the water and with the other participants. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

On Saturday, Feb. 2, a few dozen Mesquite residents plunged into the icy waters of the Mesquite Recreation Center’s outdoor pool that lay beneath the snowcapped Virgin Mountains as a fundraising effort for the Mesquite Special Olympics.

This year’s theme was “Plunge with a Purpose” focusing on SONV’s mission of promoting inclusion, empowering people with disabilities and helping to put an end to bullying.

Proceeds from the Mesquite Polar Plunge benefit SONV to offer year-round training and competitions in 10 different sports, schools programs and health resources all completely free of charge to more than 3,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities in the state.

The money raised will help to provide sports training and competition opportunities to the Special Olympics athletes currently served, right here in Mesquite.

The largest Polar Plunge fundraising event, the “Plugapalooza,” which raises money for Special Olympics, is held at Sandy Point State Park in Maryland where they’ve had participants numbering 12,000 or better.

For the privilege of experiencing that icy blast Mesquite residents needed to raise a minimum of $125, but they didn’t have to stop there; in this case, more is always better.

Those who raised the minimum received an official Feel the Thrill of the Chill long sleeve Polar Plunge t-shirt and a barbecue lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers with all the fixings.

While enjoying lunch, folks also participated in post/pre-plunge activities including awards presentations for tops fundraisers and best costumes and raffle prizes donated from local businesses.

Mesquite resident, Bill Boope, takes the plunge for Special Olympics in a belly dancer’s costume which did nothing to shield him from the icy watersbut made a huge splash in the water and with the other participants. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Mesquite Rotary members are hardcore supporters of the Special Olympics and member Dale Rust, AKA Mizz Lollipop, was there on behalf of all Rotary members to take that icy dip.

Keith Buchhalter said, “We’ve always helped to support the Special Olympics financially and I think It’s an important partnership. Not just to help support them financially but to attend and participate in their events; that’s what helps to build a strong community. At the end of the day, what is important is strengthening our community for everyone.”

To add to the fun, costumes were encouraged, and some residents went all out on theirs. Charley and  Bill Boope, supporters of the event, dressed Bill in a belly dancer outfit that didn’t do much to keep him warm but made a big splash with the other supporters and in the water.

After the plunge, hot showers were available inside the Recreation Center for folks to warm their bones. A hot lunch was available for anybody who wanted to support but not take the plunge; Mesquite Fire and Rescue workers cooked up a mess of burgers and hot dogs to feed the troupes.

Special Olympics Nevada is dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities through sports, education and athlete health. The 501(c)3 nonprofit organization offers free year-round training and competition programs for 3,050 athletes who compete in more than 50 competitions in 10 sports annually. Within the Community Sports Program and the Schools Partnership Program, SONV is encouraging the growth of Unified Sports®, bringing together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to play as teammates.

In addition, SONV impacts more than 35,000 students each year by promoting inclusion on school campuses. SONV is also committed to improving the overall health and well-being of individuals with intellectual disabilities through Healthy Athletes events, offering screenings and services free of charge. SONV relies on the support of 3,445 volunteers and funding from individuals, organizations, corporations, government and foundations. In 2018, SONV celebrated the 50-year anniversary of Special Olympics.

More information may be found by visiting www.sonv.org and following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @SONevada.