'Polar Plunge' raises money for Special Olympics at NRH20

Posted Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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NORTH RICHLAND HILLS -- About 115 people plunged into frigid water Saturday at the NRH20 Family Water Park to help make Special Olympics Texas a little more special.

Participants of the Polar Plunge did what they could to make the event festive, with some dressing in pajamas, karate outfits, or as hippies, gorillas and Hawaiian surfers. Doughnuts and coffee were served.

"I did it last year," said Mike Easley, 26, of Haslet. "It's terrible." Easley makes the plunge to help out a good cause, he says.

Brad Watson, 48, of North Richland Hills, was planning to go down for the first time. He was accompanying Avery Cargill, 9, and Will Cargill, 7, of Trophy Club. Watson is a friend of the Cargill family. Joanna Cargill, the children's mother, said her brother is a Special Olympian, so they wanted to support the event.

Police departments, cities and local businesses sent contingents of people to go down the Viper water slide on a raft and into a 3-foot, 6-inch pool of water.

Special Olympics Texas hoped to raise $25,000 from the event, said Doug Ray, senior development director. Adult participants were expected to raise a minimum of $60, participants 18 and younger, $30.

The pool's temperature was 40 to 45 degrees at the surface, said Roger Skaggs, city maintenance supervisor. He estimated that the water below was about 38 degrees.

No one has ever been hurt during the local Polar Plunge's 12-year history, an estimated seven years at NRH20, Special Olympic officials said. But participants still must sign a waiver that they will not sue if they suffer any injuries, Ray said. North Richland Hills firefighters/emergency medical technicians were standing beside the pool with a stretcher and medical equipment should anyone suffer a shock to the body.

Participants made their splash starting at about 10 a.m. Most of the plungers somersaulted or jumped into the pool after they ended their slide. They moved quickly out after they realized just how cold the water was.

Special Olympian Colby Bannister, 26, of Fort Worth called the event fun and amazing. He said he participates in cycling, power lifting and swimming, but he was not about to plunge into a cold-water pool.

Will Cargill eventually thought that was a good idea. But his sister joined Watson.

"It was fun," she said after scrambling out of the pool. "It was a blast."

"How was it?" Watson asked. "It was cold. It was freezing."

Easley was among the few who stood around the pool for a few minutes instead of rushing to change.

"It was really cold," Easley said. "Actually, it's not as bad as it was last year. Last year was worse. Once you go under, it's really not that bad."

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