Lakeridge High students plunge into Columbia River for a Special Olympics Oregon fundraiser

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Pacers, from left, Alex Brivic, Lucas Diamond, Cory Barba and Nathan Barba plunged into the Columbia River to support Special Olympics Oregon.Splashing into the Columbia River with water about as cold as the 38-degree air on Saturday was a group of Pacers clad in swimming suits.

Lakeridge High School senior Cory Barba led the charge into the waves lapping Broughton Beach while thousands of onlookers stayed on land, raising their voices in support. The Lakeridge students — Barba, Nathan Barba, Spencer Gregg, Lucas Diamond, Alex Brivic and Jordan Majer (who was on the team but got sick on the big day) — were among many area participants who coated themselves in cold to raise money for Special Olympics Oregon during the Polar Plunge. Cory Barba said it takes courage to race into near-freezing water.

“It was definitely a tough decision, but it was worth it knowing how much money and support we were giving Special Olympics Oregon,” he SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Pacer Plungers, from left, include: Cory Barba, Lucas Diamond, Nathan Barba, Alex Brivic and Spencer Gregg.

To take the plunge, students had to raise $50, and the Pacers collected $350 for the cause. Cory Barba also participated in an optional 5K before his team’s act of kindness and chilliness. Cory and Nathan Barba are among the coaches for the Challengers, a soccer program for children with Down syndrome and other physical disabilities.

“It’s something I’m really passionate about,” Cory Barba said. “The Challengers has really opened up my eyes. There’s a spectrum of the world with so many people who have disabilities. It’s a spectrum that I think should be noticed and everyone should try and support.” by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Pacer Plungers get warm and dry after their dip, from left: Alex Brivic, Nathan Barba, Lucas Diamond and Spencer Gregg.

Polar Plunge events throughout the country raised more than $20 million for the Special Olympics in 2012 (the most recent data the group offers). Special Olympics and offshoot Special Olympics Oregon are nonprofit organizations that highlight the athletic talents of people with intellectual disabilities through major athletic competitions.

Maya Barba said her sons enjoyed the event, and she hopes what they did will inspire others to join in.

“The Special Olympics is a wonderful group to support, and we look forward to cheering on athletes this summer at the Oregon Special Olympics,” Maya Barba SUBMITTED PHOTO - A crowd of thousands of people at a Special Olympics Oregon fundraiser last weekend, included, from left: Lucas Diamond, Nathan Barba, Cory Barba, Spencer Gregg and Alex Brivic.
By Jillian Daley
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