2 athletes raise over $3K each for Special Olympics Stanly County

By Jessica Covington, for the SNAP

On March 16 Special Olympics Stanly County congregated at Badin Lake for its annual Polar Plunge fundraiser.

The day began with a flurry of fun, interactive activities such as a talent show, costume contest, bake sale and silent auction. They also had someone available for face painting, which was a big hit with attendees of all ages.

This was the eighth year they have done the Polar Plunge, and it is by far their most successful fundraiser, according to Kathy Odell, a co-coordinator for Special Olympics Stanly County.

She said this was regularly the most attended fundraiser, and the one from which they get the most positive feedback.

“Our athletes never have to pay to participate — all uniforms, travel to competitions, lodging and meals are all paid for with the money we raise from the Polar Plunge,” she said. “Everyone really loves it.”

This year, two long-time athletes rose to the challenge and raised more than $3,000 each. The highest amount raised was more than $3,400 by Angela Kirk.

Angela and her mother, Gale, were both in attendance at the event. Angela has been participating in the Special Olympics since 1977.

“I am a Special Olympian and it’s fun,” she said.

Gale added, “Angela has gotten to do almost every sport, and the community is really great.”

Angela did most of her fundraising through her family, friends and acquaintances.

“We just asked people we knew and they were very generous,” Gale said.

Jamie Hathcock is assisted from Badin Lake after participating in the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics. He raised more than $3,000 through the event and has been fundraising for the organization for 40 years. (Photo by JESSICA COVINGTON)

The second highest amount brought in was $3,040 by Jamie Hathcock. Jamie has been a Special Olympian for 40 years.

“I love the program. You know, it keeps kids out of trouble, gives them something to do,” he said.

In addition to being a participant, Jamie is also regularly one of the top fundraisers for Special Olympics Stanly County. This can be attributed to his all-in approach. He cold calls businesses in the area, walks into stores to talk to associates and even approaches people on the street.

“I just really believe in this,” he said.

After spending the morning together doing the activities, the time approached for the participants to take the plunge. The water was a chilly 57 degrees, and the air temperature didn’t feel much warmer with the wind.

Plungers take a dip in Badin Lake. (Photo by JESSICA COVINGTON)

Nevertheless, the plungers jumped out into the water before scurrying back to shore. Family and friends cheered from the shore and were ready to help the athletes warm up with towels and dry clothes when they came out of the water.

The Polar Plunge brought in almost $25,000 to be used by the athletes throughout the coming year.

Odell is looking forward to all the ways they will be able to continue to support the Special Olympics in Stanly County.

“There is so much camaraderie among our athletes,” she said. “Lifelong friendships are made with other athletes from many surrounding counties.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer or who knows of an athlete who would like to participate can contact Kathy Odell or co-coordinator Joallen Lowder at stanly@sonc.net.

Jessica Covington is a freelance writer for The Stanly News & Press.