by Amanda Lanum
In this 40th year of the Special Olympics, a group of community members braved the cold weather and icy Lake Shawnee water to take part in the Special Olympics Polar Plunge in Topeka. Some came to strut, some came to plunge... some did it all to show their support for the athletes who train and compete year-round in the 22 sports of the Special Olympics.
(Here are racers ready at the start line for the 5K strut/walk)
This was my second year to participate in the 5K run before plungers take the dive into Lake Shawnee. (I haven't gotten the courage to plunge either time! One day...)
(Thanks to Laura Moore for sharing this picture. She captured me waiting for the plunge to start!)
It's tradition to dress in costume to make the event more fun!
(Everyone got a kick out of this six-pack crew!)
(Photojournalists Rick Felsburg and Jovarie Downing: Rick took the plunge after running; Jovarie was there for support :). )
(See Rick in the lower right, rocking his 13 WIBW shirt? :) )
They actually had to break a square in the ice so that plungers could plunge! This is actually the way it's meant to be. :) No one seemed to mind. They were all in great spirits!
(Plunge! They said about 110 people were registered to jump in!)
In case you're not familiar, the mission of Special Olympics Kansas is to empower individuals with intellectual disabilities to become physically fit, productive and respected members of society through sports competitions, health and nutrition programs and leadership development.
It was a great honor to be able to show Special Olympic athletes how much people care about something that means so much to them, and to be able to do that through our own physical efforts - whether it was running, walking, and/or plunging - was a great reminder to never take advantage of your health or what your body is capable of.
You can find out more about Special Olympics Kansas (and see more Plunge pictures!) at http://www.ksso.org.