Despite remnants of snow and ice from last week’s record-breaking winter storm, area volunteers “plunged” into Beaverfork Lake in efforts to raise money for Special Olympics.
Darla and Kyle Jones, Area 17 co-directors for the Special Olympics, assembled a team to hold the third annual Polar Bear Plunge. Darla Jones and her management team dressed as Snow White and the seven dwarves. Other plunger costumes included a baseball player, Batman, the Joker, Popeye, Olive Oyl and several other unidentifiable characters.
Darla Jones said the event raised $9,500 in 2009.
“We have volunteers from Russellville, Conway, Morrilton, Greenbrier, Vilonia, all over. It’s a five-county area,” Jones said. “We’ve hoped for a good turnout even though it’s colder than in the past.”
High temperatures, according to North Little Rock’s National Weather Service, reached the mid-40s by the afternoon. The NWS reported the temperature was 40 degrees when volunteers entered the water at 11 a.m.
Many participants described the jump into the cold water as an all-over burning sensation, followed by numbness. Several spectators threw snowballs into the lake.
City of Conway Fire Department provided a warming tent for freezing volunteers.
A cake auction was held in the park’s pavilion where a Mississippi Mud cake was auctioned off at $200, and a Butterfinger cake at $125.
The team raising the most money for Special Olympics was Independent Living Services of Conway who raised $1,200. The group also took home an award for the best team costume for their Mardi Gras attire. The most money raised by any one individual was by Robert Jones of Russellville, who raised $600. The best individual costume award went to Kirby Mize of Vilonia, who dressed as a baseball player.
Brenda Holt, one of the seven dwarves and previous director of Area 17’s Special Olympics, said she can’t stop volunteering.
“We do it for the athletes, and I do it for (Independent Living Service) and my daughter. It means a lot that people come support us,” Holt said. “I always say if you ever start by just one time volunteering with the Special Olympics, you’ll never stop.”
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)