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People Taking Action: Local sheriff gets dunked and then some for Special Olympics

Sheriff Joe Baron gets dunked
Posted at 10:09 PM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 22:09:56-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Norfolk Sheriff Joe Baron was in for a surprise. Yes, he knew he was about to get cold and wet, but he didn't know his office had a few tricks up their sleeve - all in support of Special Olympics Virginia.

All the teams this year raising money had to get creative due to COVID-19 because due to social distancing concerns, there would be no Polar Plunge - no massive crowds running into the Atlantic at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.

The Norfolk Sheriff's Office team decided to do a "Polar Dunk" instead, and the sheriff knew he was the target. Their team's head fundraiser, Julia Dunn, who works in their community affairs department, got to choose, says Sheriff Baron.

"So, Julia is the highest fundraiser and what we did we said, whoever was the highest fundraiser gets to choose who gets the bucket of water over them... and I got chosen," he explained.

When asked about choosing her boss to get dunked, Julia said with a laugh, "I'm terrified!"

When it came time for the dunking, the sheriff didn't notice until later on was that one of his deputies had attached a little hose to that bucket - and once the sheriff sat down, someone turned on the faucet. So, it was an endless downpour of water on the sheriff, who eventually caught on.

But the sheriff was definitely a good sport about it.

"No, this was fun - what a great cause. And I hope everybody got a kick out of it, but we have to be leaders in our community. We have to be leaders and try to make a difference," he said.

The deputy behind the rigged bucket was Lt. Meryah Breeden.

Related: Polar Plungers are 'all in' for a chilly dip in the Chesapeake Bay

"I think it was about halfway through that it dawned on him that there was a little too much water coming out of that bucket, but it was a good show for everybody."

Yes, a great show - but the sheriff wasn't the only one who got wet in his department. Lt. Breeden and a few others made video of their at-home versions of the Polar Plunge. Fully dressed, Lt. Breeden jumped in a pool!

Their efforts raised more than $6,000, and for what they're doing, News 3 presented the sheriff's office with a People Taking Action award, plus a $300 Visa gift card from our community partner, Southern Bank, which Sheriff Baron said he wanted to donate to Special Olympics.

He was very grateful for the recognition, but since he was drenched, he was very eager to get out of his cold, wet clothes.

To nominate someone for a People Taking Action Award, click here.