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Sandy teen takes polar plunge for Special Olympics

Joslynn Bigelow is a top fundraiser for her team at La Salle
by: JOSLYNN BIGELOW Joslynn Bigelow of Sandy has a goal to raise $1,000 for Special Olympics Oregon by Saturday’s polar plunge in Portland.

She took her first plunge into the Columbia River's wintry waters a year ago, dressed up in a red tutu, 'I See Blue People' T-shirt and red hairspray.

Running into the water until she was chest deep, she gave a high-five to the divers and returned to a screaming band of supporters, including the event's polar bear mascot.

Saturday, Feb. 11, Joslynn Bigelow, a 15-year-old from Sandy, will take her second polar plunge benefiting Special Olympics Oregon, and this year she's upped her fundraising goal.

A sophomore at La Salle Catholic College Prep, Joslynn has raised more than $500 for Special Olympics Oregon this year, and has a goal of reaching $1,000 by Saturday.

The polar plunge, presented by Fred Meyer and supported by the Oregon Law Enforcement Torch Run, takes place every year in Portland, Corvallis, Eugene, Medford and Bend. This year, about 4,000 people are expected to participate throughout the state.

Special Olympics Oregon, the nonprofit organization the polar plunge benefits, provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-style sports for 8,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

At her high school, Joslynn is a peer mentor for a program called Signum Fidei, or 'Signs of Faith,' which offers educational opportunities for students with learning disabilities.

She's also a co-leader of the Community 101 Club that last year focused on helping people with developmental disabilities. And she helped implement a pledge at her school for students not to use the word 'retarded' in a derogatory way.

'Everyone has to take the time to go beyond his or herself and see how their words affect other people,' she says. 'Building an awareness, giving others opportunities and making others feel special -- these are all great ways.'

Outside her school and volunteer involvement, Joslynn is a varsity soccer player and member of St. Michael's Church of Sandy. In the future, she dreams of pursuing law within the victim advocacy unit of Lewis and Clark College.

For more information about Special Olympics Oregon, visit soor.org. To support Joslynn in her fundraising goal for the 2012 Portland Polar Plunge, visit portlandplunge.kintera.org and search Joslynn Bigelow under the 'Sponsor Polar Plunger' tab.