PETERSBURG — Step on in. The water's fine, considering the reason you'll be freezin' !

Gibson County Special Olympians benefit from the annual Special Olympics Indiana Polar Plunge fundraiser coming up Feb. 23 at Prides Creek Park near Petersburg.

The event begins with registration 9 a.m. (10 a.m. Eastern Time) on the beach of Prides Creek Park. Everyone lines up to step in the water at 11 a.m (noon ET), with hopes of raising $1 million for the statewide program. Over the years, Polar Plunge has raised more than $6 million, including more than $800,000 raised last year. The Prides Creek Polar Plunge event is one of 18 Polar Plunge events involving more than 3,000 participants across Indiana, commemorating the 50th anniversary this year of Special Olympics, which serves more than 16,000 athletes. All funds raised directly benefit current and future Special Olympics Athletes.

That includes programs at the Gibson County Youth Center at the corner of Hart and Water Streets in Princeton, where Gibson County Special Olympians take part in programs such as basketball, a fitness club and pep club, said Francie Smith of Princeton, who serves as Special Olympics Indiana's South Regional Manager. Smith said Special Olympians from Wabash County, Illinois, also participate in the programs offered here.

The Polar Plunge is a 20-year Special Olympics fundraising tradition, staged at Prides Creek for the fifth year in 2019.

Participants must raise a minimum of $75 ($50 with student identification) in pledges. Awards are presented to the top fundraising teams and individuals. Participants can register individually or as teams.

Following the plunge, organizers plan an indoor After Splash Bash at Petersburg Gospel Center's Activities Building at 420 East Illinois Street in Petersburg. Admission is $5 for spectators and guests.

Special Olympics Polar Plunge is presented by the Law Enforcement Torch Run to Benefit Special Olympics, and is sponsored by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana and Duke Energy, and others.

For more information about the event, or to donate, visit www.PolarPlungeIn.org

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