Folks show up in all sorts of costumes to take the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics. This year’s plunge was held on Feb. 29 at the Rising Star Sports Ranch; it appears a Ninja Turtle and other superheroes were eager to hit the water for a good cause. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

The Polar Plunge is a fun and chilly, way to raise funds that help support Special Olympics. The challenge of plunging into icy waters drew a crowd this past weekend to Mesquite; some coming all the way from Elyria, OH.

Last year’s Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Nevada (SONV), held at the Mesquite Recreation Center was such a success that SONV decided to move the entire event from Las Vegas to Mesquite as well. This year the Rising Star Sports Ranch hosted the event on Leap Day, Feb. 29.

Characters of all sorts from Ninja Turtles to aliens showed up to plunge into the Rising Star’s pool. One group of aliens came 18 strong from Vegas to support friend and/or family member Matthew Fiscus who is a wonderful all-around athlete according to his aunt Donna Fiscus from OH. She thinks that Special Olympics is a wonderful organization. Donna was happy to dress for the occasion but wasn’t going to participate in the plunge having just gone through knee surgery though she was happy to travel nearly 3,000 miles to help support Matthew. Donna things the event in Mesquite is preferable to plunging into the icy waters of Lake Erie which truly support the polar part of the plunge. The Rising Star did have a heated pool which made things much more comfortable for those folks who committed to going for a swim, but Donna thought it would be ok stating, “What others didn’t know…” It wouldn’t have mattered if the water was icy cold, those who were committed to the cause would have taken the plunge regardless.

For the privilege of experiencing that not quite 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. Mesquite Rotary Members Keith Buchhalter and Rotary President, Rick Tuttle  took the plunge this year and raised nearly $2565 between the two of them, Buchhalter was so impressed and grateful for his friends and family’s support in raising the money for this awesome event, he jumped in a second time. Buchhalter says it’s important for Rotary and for himself to support other organizations and their events; it’s what helps to make a community strong for everybody and according to Buchhalter, at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing.

Events for the day included a costume parade, games, a silent auction and post plunge party. It couldn’t have turned out to be a more perfect event. The weather offered comfortable temperatures, blue skies and plenty of sunshine. Speaking of sunshine, Mesquite Showgirls were there to help spread plenty themselves and were terrific hostesses to the crowd while Elvis was in the house to announce the activities.

All proceeds from the Mesquite Polar Plunge benefit SONV to continue to showcase the capabilities and achievements of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Along with providing free year-round sports and competition programs for more than 3,250 athletes, SONV encourages education through Unified Sports and the Schools Partnership Program; and is committed to improving the health and well-being of athletes through a variety of screenings and programs.

Special Olympics Nevada (SONV) 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 is celebrating 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.