Hundreds brave ‘Polar Plunge’ into SF Bay

AQUATIC PARK — Hundreds of Special Olympic athletes and their supporters braved icy Bay waters in colorful costumes and uniforms for the 7th annual San Francisco Polar Plunge and 5K Fun Run/Walk Saturday afternoon.

Photos by Gabriella Gamboa/SFBay

About 800 plungers — including members of the San Francisco and Oakland Police departments — took part in the fundraiser, which supports the Special Olympics of Northern California.

At noon, teams lined up to dip, dive and plunge into the chilly waters of Aquatic Park Beach.

Teams raised $125 each to participate, which covers the cost of one season of sports instruction and competition for one Special Olympics athlete. More than $430,000 was raised for the athletes in 2012.

Funds raised at the San Francisco Polar Plunge help Special Olympics athletes to participate in regional, national and international competitions, said Anna Oleson-Wheeler, Corporate Relations Manager of Special Olympics Northern California.

Bay Area resident Sean Ryan, whose mother is a special education teacher, has participated in the fundraiser for the last 6 years:

“I find it really fun and I even know a lot of the athletes now. I’ve volunteered for other fundraisers like the Crab Feed, but the Polar Plunge is by far my favorite.”

Participants in any of the nine Polar Plunge events hosted in Northern California are invited to celebrate  at the Polar Plungefest party on March 2 in Lake Tahoe.