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Residents take frigid plunge for Special Olympics

Participants at the Polar Plunge braved the waters of Lake Champlain to raise money for the Special Olympics.

Participants at the Polar Plunge braved the waters of Lake Champlain to raise money for the Special Olympics. Photo by Stephen Bartlett.

“It is amazing to see the smiles on the athletes’ faces.”

Special Olympics is the largest amateur sports organization in the world. With 51,809 athletes, Special Olympics New York is the largest chapter in North America and the sixth largest chapter in the world.

Special Olympics New York athletes train and compete year-roud in 22 sports, the Young Athletes Program and the Motor Activities Training Program, at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers.

“We raise $1 million for athletes,” McCartan said. “This is probably the most rewarding job I could have asked for.”

Prior to the plunge, those gathered danced and worked out to Zumba, enjoying food and refreshments and participating in a costume contest.

Divers and paramedics stood by as participants raced into the water at noon, making their way back to the beach, red and shivering.

“We raised close to $2,000,” said Mark Thomson, whose son Matt was the torch bearer.

Matt plays basketball for the Special Olympics.

“I went to the state games,” he said. “It was fun.”

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