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More than 90 take cold dip for charity

By Chesley Oxendine, Muskogee Daily Phoenix

1375 days ago   Article ID# 1458988
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Special Olympics

MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA (Muskogee Daily Phoenix) - More than 90 people braved the chilly Illinois River for Saturday morning's “Polar Plunge” event, held at Arrowhead Resort.

The event raised more than $11,000 for Special Olympics teams.

Polar Plunge Committee member Sunny Quetone, who teaches Special Education at Keys Elementary School, said most of the money goes to local teams.

Participants, ranging from police officers to elementary school students, waded in and out of the water in groups while Master of Ceremonies Todd Enlow goaded them on.

“Who's ready to get cold?” Enlow asked the waiting crowd, eliciting a cheer from participants.

The Illinois River Fire Department was on hand for swift water rescue, just in case.

Among the potential divers were a number of costumes. One such attendee was Muskogee High School teacher Terry Whenry, who dressed as Leonidas from the movie “300.”

Complete with plastic sword and cardboard shield, Whenry charged into the water and quickly waded back out.

He said despite the mild winter weather, the water was “freezing.”

“Doesn't matter if it's 50 degrees outside, it's still cold in there,” Whenry said. “But it numbs a little bit as you go in, so I figured I could go a little longer.”

He said the Plunge represented a “good” cause.

“You just help the kids out, you know. When I found out they had to pay to participate in the Special Olympics, that kind of got me out here.”

Whenry said he learned about the Plunge through a former student, Nolan King, who tagged along with him.

King said she involved herself with Special Olympics since age 4.

“It's just seeing the joy it brings these kids,” King said. “They really get out there and have a good time.”

Greenwood Elementary teacher Lance Jeanes said his students pitched in toward his registration fee and donation.

“It was a motivator for the kids to go raise money,” Jeanes said. “They get to see their teacher go jump in the river.”

Despite the cold, the Oilton native said he plans on returning.

“I'm going to keep doing this every year they have it,” Jeanes said.

The Cherokee National Marshals were also on hand for a swim.

Marshal Mark Butler said the morning, his third Plunge, was a “good experience.”

“This is a phenomenal cause, coming out for the Special Olympics,” he said.

After everyone climbed out of the river, organizers held a short awards ceremony.

Cali Slape was awarded best costume for wearing a one-piece bunny suit, while John Hendrickson made the largest individual donation at $253.

Custom Crafted Log Homes made the largest single group donation at $1,049, and Tahlequah Elementary won the schools donation category with $992.

The Cherokee National Marshals continued their streak as the Plunge's biggest local supporters with a gift of $3,552.

Copyright 2015 Muskogee Daily Phoenix   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 1375 days ago   Article ID# 1458988

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