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People are plunging into Tahoe on March 19 for Special Olympics event



SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. – Teams of super heroes, penguins, pirates and other eye-catching characters jumped into Lake Tahoe last winter. On March 19, they’ll do it again, and you’re invited to join them as Special Olympics Nevada co-hosts the “Freezin’ for a Reason” Polar Plunge® 2011 at Zephyr Cove, South Lake Tahoe. The event is open to all and will include entertainment, a costume contest, prizes, and Special Olympics athletes, coaches, and volunteers who will share their experiences with the organization’s inspiring programs.

The Plunge® is a national event held across the U.S. and is supported locally by many law enforcement officers, businesses, and individuals who are dedicated to helping our region’s athletes get the training, equipment, and other items needed to compete in the annual Special Olympics games. Three Nevada athletes are prepared to travel on behalf of TEAM USA to compete at the World Games in Athens, Greece this summer. However, economic conditions have made raising funds for these athletes challenging, making this year’s Plunge® even more important for Special Olympics Nevada. Those rising to the challenge include students from Carson High School, who have assembled a team of “plungers” that will take on Lake Tahoe’s chilly water in the name of supporting our state’s athletes.

“The Polar Plunge® is the grand-daddy of all the plunges in this region,” said Maggie Schwarz, Regional Vice President of Special Olympics in Nevada. “With a Cool School Challenge spearheaded by Carson High School, this event will be an amazing experience for everyone in our community. Stick in your big toe or go ‘whole hog’…it’s fun for all, and plungers share a memorable experience with friends, family and co-workers while giving back. Think of it this way, the Special Olympics’ athletes demonstrate their bravery in everything they do, every day of their lives. All we need to do is be half that courageous by getting a little wet in chilly water!”

Last year, more than 250 people from the Reno-Tahoe area plunged for Special Olympics, and for the fourth year in a row, South Lake Tahoe resident Joyce Whitney-Silva will once again brave the icy waters. In fact, Whitney-Silva has formed the “Greater Nevada Vikings”, comprised of her co-workers at Greater Nevada Credit Union, who will join her in the Plunge®.

“A group of our employees tried it last year and just loved it,” said Whitney-Silva, who is also a coach for Special Olympics.  “This year our team expects to grow to 50 plus.”

The Polar Plunge® will take place at Zephyr Cove on March 19. Check in opens at 10am, and the Plunge® takes place at noon. Registration for the Plunge® is open to the public, and plungers are invited to jump into the water in costume. Plungers raise funds by getting sponsors to support their plunge, and though plungers are not required to totally submerge, they must register for the activity and sign a waiver. For more information, please visit www.SONV.org.

About Special Olympics Northern California & Nevada

Special Olympics is a free year-round sports training and competition program for children and adults with developmental disabilities. More than 17,000 athletes compete in over 170 competitions in 12 sports. This requires the extraordinary support and time of some 12,000 volunteers. Financial support comes almost exclusively from individuals, organizations, corporations and foundations.  Find out how you can be a fan and visit www.SONC.org or www.SONV.org.

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