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Polar Plunge kicks off with frigid fun at safe distances

Southern Oregonians have already raised nearly $10,000 for Special Olympics of Oregon, and the fundraiser is only getting started.

Local police and firefighters kicked off Polar Plunge Southern Oregon Saturday morning with a livestreamed "mini plunge" event at the Jackson County Fire District 3 training center in White City that had far fewer crowds and a little more social distancing than the typical cool pool spectacle. It was still every bit as chilly thanks to some strategically placed firehoses at the training tower.

According to Polar Plunge Southern Oregon organizer Kim Andresen, this year the extravaganza is a monthlong event, with chilly challenges up to participants' imaginations. Some participants, for example, have taken the plunge in bathtubs with ice. Andresen encourages plungers to use hashtags #PolarPlunge, #PlungeWithPoliceAndFire, #PlungeAtHome and #PlungeOregon.

"Anything goes as long as you're being safe," Andresen said.

As of Saturday evening, the event has raised about $9,800 towards a $20,000 goal for the event, which is Special Olympics' biggest fundraiser of the year. Sponsors have brought in an extra $7,000, according to Andresen. For more info on how to participate find the "Polar Plunge Southern Oregon" Facebook group or see support.soor.org.

Fire District No. 3 Chief Robert Horton reacts as Jennifer Horton gets doused with a fire hose as they both participate in a Polar Plunge Southern Oregon event Saturday morning at the Jackson County Fire District 3 training center in White City. Proceeds from the event benefit Special Olympics of Oregon. Photo by Denise Baratta for the Mail Tribune
Larissa Hamilton of Mercy Flights reacts as she is sprayed with a fire hose in a modified version of the Polar Plunge to raise money for Special Olympics Saturday in White City. Photo by Denise Baratta for the Mail Tribune