Brothers of Phi Sigma Kappa throw another brother into the pool. Photo by Austin Chaney.

Phi Sigma Kappa had their third annual Polar Plunge fundraiser event on Feb. 25, located in the Belk Plaza, to raise money for the Special Olympics of Mecklenburg County.

The Polar Plunge is a fundraising event that supports the Special Olympics of North Carolina by allowing participants to jump into a cold body of water during the winter months. It is a popular event held throughout different states that not only raises donations for a good cause, but creates a fun environment for the people participating in the event as well.

The Special Olympics were founded to encourage individuals with intellectual disabilities to participate in sports and physical activity, allowing them to develop physical fitness and take part in a variety of athletic competitions. North Carolina has one of the largest Special Olympics programs in the world with nearly 40,000 registered athletes who train and compete in year-round programs in 19 different sports.

“We’re trying to send one local athlete to the local Olympics, that’s our yearly goal,” says Michael Ellis, a member of Phi Sigma and one of the participants that jumped in the pool. “There’s a lot of obstacles to setting up this event, but it’s ultimately worth it.”

He also mentioned the athlete that would eventually attend the Special Olympics has attended and spoken at the event in past years.

Phi Sigma set up a large pool for people to jump in and nearby were speakers playing music at the event. The Polar Plunge was open to everyone and did not include an admissions fee.

Over 100 people attended the event this year and nearly half of them jumped in the pool. The warm, sunny weather made it much easier for people to participate.

“Phi Sigma Kappa’s national philanthropy is the Special Olympics,” explained Roger Verastegui, organizer of this year’s Polar Plunge. “When trying to find a specific event to do, we thought the Polar Plunge would be the best one, it being February and we could get a lot of people to come out in the nice weather and donate.”

He mentioned that year they raised around $1,500 and the goal this year is to raise $2,500. The first year they began the fundraiser, they only raised $300 and they have already raised $1,000 so far for this year’s Polar Plunge. The event is expected to continue to grow every year.