By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Once again, Polar Plunges to benefit Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) were held statewide at lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. New this year, a Polar Plunge was introduced March 6 at the Yawkey Sports Training Center in Marlborough, the SOMA headquarters. It was organized by Officer Andy LaRose of the Marlborough Police Department (MPD) after he attended the International Law Enforcement Torch Run Conference last fall in the Bahamas.
“I saw the impact that police can make,” he said. “I knew there were other plunges going on. I figured we could add another event for Special Olympics in Marlborough, considering their headquarters is right here.”
According to its website, “SOMA provides year-round sports training, athletic competition and other health-related programming for athletes with intellectual disabilities throughout the state.”
For the past two years, LaRose also organized the MPD Motorcycle Ride as a fundraiser for SOMA. This year’s ride is scheduled for Sunday, June 26, and begins at the SOMA headquarters at 512 Forest Street.
Consideration was given to Memorial Beach for Marlborough’s inaugural plunge, LaRose noted.
“We thought of last year when we had snow at this time,” he explained. “If we got snow, we’d be scrambling to try to find a new location. We figured there’s a beautiful building here, so we might as well use it.”
Individuals and team members plunged from the back of a truck into a pool stationed in the SOMA headquarters parking lot. Each plunger was asked to raise a minimum of $100. They collectively raised $5,000. In addition to plungers, Wegmans provided food for participants and volunteers. The first-time event is expected to be held annually.
The city’s inaugural plungers were thanked by Mary Beth McMahon, SOMA president and CEO. She noted the diverse range of athletes who benefit from this and other fundraisers.
“From age 2-1/2 to 104, just shy of 12,000 athletes are playing 24 sports – and every one of them participates for free,” she said. With a laugh, she added, “They couldn’t do that without you guys coming out and doing crazy events like this.”
For more information about SOMA, visit specialolympicsma.org and on Facebook.
Photos/Ed Karvoski Jr.