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Over $1 million raised at 24th annual Polar Plunge Festival in Virginia Beach

Posted at 5:03 PM, Feb 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-06 23:46:26-05

Virginia Beach, Va. - Polar Plunge participants have officially raised $1,020,000 (and counting) for Special Olympics Virginia.

Nearly 4,000 braved the winter weather to raise money.

“The ‘coolest’ thing about the Polar Plunge is that it is a very unifying event,” said Rick Jeffrey, Special Olympics Virginia President. “The first 150 plungers who went into the frosty Atlantic today were Special Olympics athletes standing shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the community and raising money for their Special Olympics programs. And although this is a destination plunge, many of the plungers and volunteers are from the Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads communities. Nobody does it like the beach! Plunge unified!”

Students from schools across Hampton Roads gathered at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront on Friday morning to take part in the Special Olympics’ Cool Schools Challenge ahead of the 2016 Polar Plunge. Plaza Middle School students raised the most money, and four students will be able to anchor the morning news on WGNT this spring--be sure to stay tuned!

On Saturday morning 508 runners participated in the Plunge 4 Miler and 1 Mile Dash & Splash, presented by the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Virginia. After each race, a few runners jumped into an icy above ground pool to cool down.

More than 100 Special Olympics athletes, family and friends from the Fredericksburg/Stafford area raised over $75,000.

George Faatz from Virginia Natural Gas raised $5,665 topping the individual fundraising podium.

Water safety was provided by more than 75 volunteer divers from across Virginia.

NewsChannel 3 and WGNT were proud to partner with Special Olympics Virginia for the 2016 Polar Plunge.

For more information on Special Olympics Virginia, visit www.specialolympicsva.org.

RELATED: 

Students jump in the chilly Atlantic for Special Olympics’ Cool School Challenge

Pre-Plunge Friday: Group jumps into the frigid Atlantic Ocean