Greenbrier Polar Plunge a huge success for Arkansas Special Olympics Area 17

More than 100 people were freezing for a reason on Feb. 18 at Greenbrier’s Polar Plunge. The annual event benefits Arkansas Special Olympics Area 17 and was held at Woolly Hollow State Park. This year’s theme was: Be Hip! Take A Dip!

From “Stranger Things” and Bob Ross to Lady Bugs and Smurfs, teams and individuals made the most of their plunges. Photos by Jeremy Higginbotham

“Donations are still coming in, but we raised about $16,000,” said Brenda Dowdy, chairperson for Area 17. “I’m just really thankful to each one who took the time to dress up and take the plunge. We support athletes with intellectual disabilities in more than 20 sports, and it’s all about taking care of the expenses for anyone who wants to participate.”

Area 17 consists of Faulkner, Van Buren, Conway, Perry and Pope counties. They sponsor sports competitions for people with intellectual disabilities, and Polar Plunge proceeds help cover the cost of equipment, hotel rooms, uniforms and other expenses.  Part of the monies raised by Special Olympics Arkansas Area 17 will sponsor Coach James Winnem from Morrilton and two athletes who will compete in June in the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, Germany.

To increase the event’s fun and raise more money, a dessert auction was held at the event that raised nearly $3,000. “We had 90-plus desserts, and I appreciate everyone who donated a dessert,” Dowdy said.

There were also contests, including best costume, youngest participant, Cool Church and Cool School. Dowdy is proud of the support from law enforcement and firemen. There were teams from Guy, Greenbrier and Conway police departments, the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office and area firemen. Several schools also participated, including Clinton, Vilonia, Greenbrier and Conway high schools.

Additionally, individuals, churches, businesses, clubs and nonprofit organizations took the plunge. When it’s time to dunk in the freezing water, participants can request that a favorite song is played. 

The winner of the Cool Church was LifeSong Baptist Church, and Clinton High School won Cool School.  To donate, contact Dowdy at 501.450.0395.