PEORIA Ill. (WMBD) — More than one hundred participants came out Saturday to take a chilly dip in frigid pool water during Peoria’s 5th annual Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Illinois.
The frosty event took place outside of Kelleher’s Irish Pub in downtown Peoria.
Vanessa Campos, organizer, said she was thrilled to see just how many people signed up to take the plunge.
“We’re so happy and grateful, we have like 15 more plungers this year, and I’m pretty sure we’ve already hit our goal of well over $20,000,” said Campos.
Multiple local law enforcement agencies came out to show their support, including Peoria, Pekin, and Morton.
Peoria’s Police Chief Eric Echevarria was the first person to take this year’s plunge.
“I think we got to continue to show support to everyone in our community, and they’re a part of our community,” Echevarria said. “Those that have special needs and that we show that we care, and we love for them, and we’re here to support them and anything we can do to help them, we’re here for them.”
He said the goal of supporting Special Olympics Illinois holds a special meaning for him and he decided to take the plunge with his brother in mind.
“To me personally I have a brother with special needs, deaf, autistic,” Echevarria said. “We have friends with down syndrome and to be able to see these younger athletes or even older athletes that have special needs, it’s just a motivation.”
“When we have those moments where you want to complain, just look at those special athletes,” Echevarria said. “What can you say.”
Campos said there will be another polar plunge next Saturday in Bloomington.