Polar Bear Plunge offers big boost to Special Olympics Delaware


REHOBOTH BEACH — “It wasn’t even that cold!” shouted Skylar Reynolds, 9, still dripping from her ocean plunge on Sunday afternoon.

Even though Skylar was shivering as she made her devil-may-care boast, the temperatures for the 26th annual Special Olympics Delaware Lewes Polar Bear Plunge on Rehoboth Beach were a bit warmer than in years past — 41 degrees in the water and 52 degrees outside with the sun blazing.

“It’s just a lot of fun to come out and do as a family,” said Duane Reynolds, Skylar’s father. “And it’s for a great cause. We make sure to remind Skylar why we’re doing it.”

The Reynolds family has been coming down to Rehoboth Beach for the plunge from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, for the past three years to participate. This year’s plunge raised about $900,000, with 3,602 “bears” participating, according to event organizers. This represents a fair bump from last year’s 3,501 participants who raised more than $820,000. The events growth has been steady since its inception in 1992 when just 78 “bears” raised only about $7,000. Overall, it’s raised about $10 million counting this year’s haul.

“Our polar bears continue to support this fabulous event year after year,” said Ann Grunert, executive director of Special Olympics Delaware. “And they also continue to recruit their friends to join them. This event truly is family-friendly, and the perfect way to give back to the community and support such a worthy cause.”

Funds raised by the event go toward Special Olympics Delaware’s year-round program of sports training, athletic competition and related programs for over 4,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Shortly after the plunge, Irv Levin and his wife Phyllis were tripling cash donations made to Special Olympics Delaware on the boardwalk. The Claymont residents have been participating in the event for 24 consecutive years. Irv and Phyllis run an annual pledge drive for many years at the plunge in honor of their son Jamie.

“With a son involved in Special Olympics, Phyllis and I, as parents, want to be involved in the program,” said Mr. Levin. “We know how valuable the organization is to the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities.”

Of course, the plunge isn’t just about the few minutes in the frigid water — a weekend full of events accompanies it. There was a Fire & Ice event on Saturday featuring ice cream and wing samples at the Rehoboth Beach Fire Department, a 5K Run to the Plunge and a Restaurant Chili Tasting contest.

There was even a sand sculpting demonstration on Saturday featuring Darrell O’Connor, a nine-time Rehoboth Beach Sandcastle Contest winner, and Delaware State News’s own editor Andy West, who’s been in the top ten of the same contest nine times.

Plunging in the ocean in the summer when it’s nice and warm is far more comfortable than in February — the same is true for building sandcastles.

“It was around 26 degrees when we started,” said Mr. West. “The sand was frozen like concrete in some spots. It was challenging, but a lot of fun. Wind created a lot of erosion but we were excited to see some ‘bears’ and the castle wall there on Sunday. It’s always nice to see people taking photos using a sculpture as a backdrop to a cool memory.”

For more information on the plunge visit www.plungeDE.org.

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