Polar Plunge raises $1.5 million for Special Olympics

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Special Olympics Chicago held its annual Polar Plunge on North Avenue Beach Sunday. (WLS)

Special Olympics Chicago held its annual Polar Plunge on North Avenue Beach Sunday.

Those willing to feel severe discomfort raised $1.5 million to help people with disabilities develop fitness and experience joy.

"I feel like I'm about to be in a car accident which is a lovely feeling," said actor Dax Shepard.

Shepard joined special Olympians, corporate teams and everyday folks crazy enough to jump into Lake Michigan in March. They made a splash for a global movement that started in Chicago in the 1960s.

"Special Olympics was born in Chicago in 1968, this is our biggest day of the year," said Kevin Magnuson, president of Special Olympics Chicago.

Plungers stayed in for a few seconds or longer, depending on how much they could take.

"It is an amazing event for an amazing cause and is so much fun," said Kaitlyn Kempaik.

"I saw my friend do it last year and it was just so amazing so I felt like I just had to do it this year," said Melissa McNeill. "I am definitely going to come back every year."

The plungers were warmed with blankets and brats.

"Did a bunch of stuff involved with Special Olympics not only here but in New Mexico as well, it's a great, great cause," said former Bears player Brian Urlacher.

Special Olympics is for children who are 8 years old and up and adults with developmental disabilities, giving them a chance to participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship. In Chicago alone, over 6,800 athletes are involved in the program.

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societyspecial olympicsChicago
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