MERIDIAN -- While it is warming up out there, it's still probably not warm enough to think about going swimming. That's exactly what a bunch of warm-hearted people did on Saturday.

It was a crisp Winter morning in Meridian, and Cory Mikhals went swimming. So did Lance Sellers, and a few others. In fact, they all took a dip every hour on the hour for 30 hours. Why?

It's all about raising money and awareness for Special Olympics of Idaho, and the over 2700 athletes that we have, said Mikhals.

It's called the Penguin Plunge, where plungers collected pledges to help raise thousands for Special Olympics Idaho.

This marathon plunging led up to a massive public plunge at noon.

You can't explain it, said Sellers. It's overwhelming joy and happiness.

It gets a little brutal at this point, said Mikhals. But what gets us through are those athletes.

Athletes like Brandon Staley, who just got back from representing Idaho in the World Games in South Korea.

It was really fun, said Staley. I met a lot of new friends, like Bobby (Barnes).

It's a good cause, said Barnes, a Special Olympian who also took the plunge on Saturday. A lot of athletes probably don't know about Special Olympics, and this will probably bring in more athletes year after year after year.

We call it 'Freezin' for a reason,' said Laurie La Follette, CEO of Special Olympics Idaho.

La Follette, says that reason is to help the organization keep giving these athletes opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have.

For many years, people with intellectual disabilities were shuttered away in institutions, ignored, forgotten, teased, and told they couldn't do anything. That's until Special Olympics started in 1968, and we changed that perception, said La Follette. Everybody has the power to be a champion within, if just given an opportunity, and that's what Special Olympics does.

Organizers say the Plunge will help fund the State Winter Games that are coming up in two weeks. For more information, and how you might be able to help, check out our hotlink.

Read or Share this story: