HAMPTON — For the first time in more than two decades, the water temperature at Hampton Beach for Penguin Plunge weekend was irrelevant.
This year’s event to raise funds for Special Olympics New Hampshire (SONH) was a do it yourself plunge. Plungers were tasked with finding their own water source and location to plunge anytime between Feb. 3 and Feb. 7th.
With a nod to Dr. Seuss, the theme was “Oh The Places We’ll Go,” owing to the fact that participants could take their plunge anywhere they wanted to as long as it was safe to do so.
A total of 800 people participated in the 2021 Penguin Plunge, raising more than $389,000 for the athletes of SONH.
“Our supporters are nothing short of amazing,” said SONH President and CEO Mary Conroy. “The dedication of our supporters is matched only by the resiliency of our athletes and we appreciate each and every one of them.”
As in past years, “plungers” registered online and raised funds via their social media channels and the online platform. Unlike past years, there was no gathering at Hampton Beach.
Special Olympics New Hampshire delivered a “Plunge Pail” to participants. The pails were filled with incentive items, snacks and other items from sponsors, and drinks from presenting sponsor Coca-Cola Beverages Northeast.
Participants were reminded to follow all local and state COVID-19 guidelines and to remain safe while plunging.
“Several hundred new participants joined us this year,” said Conroy. “Allowing plungers to choose their own time and place has brought a whole new dimension to a 22-year tradition.”
The plunge featured hundreds of individual participants as well as teams of “flocks” from many businesses and schools statewide.
The Prep School Plunge, High School Plunge and Penguin Plunge are part of the SONH Winter Water Sports Series and are the most important fundraisers of the year for the more than 3000 Granite State athletes served by Special Olympics New Hampshire.
The athletes of SONH have been connecting with the organization, and each other, through some creative initiatives. While no in-person activities have been scheduled, New Hampshire’s Special Olympics athletes have been busy with activities both physical and social. SONH has worked hard the past 11 months to engage with the athlete community to not only keep them active, but also to lessen the feeling of isolation that many athletes feel with no in-person activities. Funds raised by the do it yourself plunge effort is critical to SONH programs moving forward and all funds raised by the plunge stay in the state.
The Winter Water Sports season continues with the 2021 Winni Dip which will also follow the do-it-yourself model used by the Penguin Plunge. Participants are invited to sign up now for the Law Enforcement Winni Dip, Community Winni Dip, Cool School Winni Dip and the 24-hour MEGA Dip. Information and registration are online at www.SONH.org. More information about Special Olympics New Hampshire is available at www.SONH.org.