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A January Jump in the Neuse
Over $5,000 raised for Special Olympics
January 30, 2023

aturday afternoon, 15 dedicated souls lined up on John Bond Beach in their swimsuits in January.

These hardy (or foolish, depending on your view) individuals were taking part in the Polar Plunge – a charity drive for Special Olympics Pamlico County.

The moment of entry. Three plungers lead the pack into the Neuse River.

Had the event been in Miami, the plungers could have enjoyed temps around 72. In Boston, more like 38. The Neuse River hit the Goldilocks sweet spot of around 50 degrees. Not quite a day on the beach, but also not Arctic in nature.

Jessie Aldridge is the local coordinator for the Pamlico County chapter of the Special Olympics. She set up the plunge as a means to raise money and awareness for more athletic events. Presently, the group only does the Spring Games – track and field events.

Part of the onshore lineup. Some in costumes, some in swimsuits.

Jessie was looking for an event to take advantage of the water around Pamlico County. It’s part of why she chose John Bond Beach, on Neuse Drive between Vandemere Street and Ragan Road. It also helped that the path into the water stays shallow for many yards, making it a less dangerous entry than other areas.

“My original goal was maybe five to six plungers, maybe $2,000,” she said.

Those at the front of the pack ran to get in and get it over with. Those towards the back took a more leisurely approach.

What she got was support from the Nautical Co-Op of Oriental, a pledge from the Arapahoe Charter School, online donations (for those that chose to do the warmer ‘virtual’ plunge), and 17 pledges to show up and dip themselves into the Neuse River in January.

Before those 15 took the plunge (2 couldn’t make it on Saturday), nearly $5,000 had been raised. More donations came in from bundled up bystanders, putting them over the $5k mark.

Going for it.
Marguerite Garret, dressed as a snowman, floats along.

Just before 1p, the Polar Plungers lined up on shore. Nerves may have got the best of them as they took to the water several minutes shy of the official dunking time.

Some ran. Others walked. Most went full immersion. Others did it bird bath style, forgoing the full dunk in favor of a light spritzing of water.

The walk back to land, warm towels, and dry clothes.

The money will help Special Olympics Pamlico fund other sports like kayaking, sailing, swimming, and basketball. And if you’d like to help out, they’re looking for a basketball coach. You don’t have to be an all-star player or coach, just know the rules and have a willingness to teach. If you’d just like to help out with events, Jessie welcomes your help there, too.

Contact Jessie Aldridge at pamlico@sonc.net and let her know if or how you’d like to help.

Marguerite Garrett, warm again.
Bob Wiegand, questioning his judgement.
Just chillin’.

Posted Monday January 30, 2023 by Allison DeWeese

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