FGHS Super Viks hope to raise $5,000 for Special Olympics on Feb. 9

In a word, Brrrrrrr.

That about sums up the Polar Plunge, an annual fundraiser for Special Olympics of Oregon that entices hundreds of people to take a benevolent jump into the icy Columbia River at Northeast Portland's Broughton Beach each winter.

On Feb. 9 at 11 a.m., 32 "plungers" from Forest Grove High School will once again take a leap for charity, said senior Hannah Golladay, who has participated in the event every year since she was a freshman.

The event's official name is the Oregon Law Enforcement Polar Plunge presented by Fred Meyer. Plungers across the state hope to collectively raise more than $500,000 next month for athletes with intellectual disabilities.

"I do Polar Plunge because the money goes to Special Olympics, and it's a great cause," noted Golladay, president of her school's Partners Club, a group that connects students with and without disabilities and brings them together for various activities. "Not to mention, it's a lot of fun."

Each plunger is required to raise a minimum of $50 in pledges from friends and family for the privilege of running headlong into the water. In 2012, its fourth year of participation, FGHS students and staff raised $2,500 — and has upped the ante to $5,000 this year.

Jill Hertel, a special education teacher at Forest Grove High, said the Super Viks team took second place among high schools for the most money raised last February, and first place for the most plungers.

"Our motivation for participating is the cause," said Hertel, who has raised $400 in pledges — and counting — so far. "As an inclusive school district, we have really benefited from the Unified Sports programs and leadership opportunities that Special Olympics Oregon helps us provide."

Twenty percent of the money raised by the Super Viks will go directly to support FGHS' Unified Sports and Unified Theatre events.

Other Polar Plunge events will be held around the state between Feb. 1 and 16. The Medford event is set for Feb. 1; a Eugene plunge will take place Feb. 2; Corvallis gets in on the action Feb. 9; and Bend will hold its plunge Feb. 16.

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