Does diving into an icy lake in the middle of winter sound fun? For some Vermonters it did, as they took the annual Penguin Plunge. "It's just so great to see how many people come down to support special olympics Vermont," said Liza Reed. She is one of the Penguin Plunge coordinators.
Special Olympics Vermont raises about 45 percent of its funds from this event. They expect 400 thousand dollars after Saturday's frigid dive. "We use the platform of sports to teach all kinds of skills, leadership skills, lifestyle skills, healthy athletes. Special Olympics is such an important program for so many families in our state," said Reed. And many agree. Casts of vibrant, expressive groups dove, ran, splashed, and even hopped themselves into Lake Champlain.
"Everyone has the same face when they hit the water or come out of the water, sheer terror," said TJ Barrett of the Burlington Fire Department. TJ Barrett has the best seat in the house. He sits in the water and ensures no one gets hurt. "You jump in and you think you can just walk out but you have no blood flow to your legs and everything is going to your core, that's where the cramping comes from and there's a lot of pain involved in that. I bet a lot of people might be sore this afternoon into tomorrow, they don't even realize," said Barrett.
After observing my first plunge and hearing professional feedback, I couldn't help but wonder...
Melissa Sheketoff: "On a scale of 1 to refreshing, how do you feel right now?"
Plunger1: "Pins and Needles!"
Plunger2: "Warm and invigorating!"
As for Special Olympics, the support of the participants who aren't afraid of Lake Champlain's icy winter waters has done much more than that in just one day.