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First-responders get frigid, raise thousands for Special Olympics

Southern Oregon police officers and firefighters took the Polar Plunge one dunk at a time in downtown Grants Pass.

Grants Pass Department of Public Safety and Medford Fire Department personnel were among the first-responders who got cold for a cause Saturday in a dunk tank at the corner of Sixth and G streets in downtown Grants Pass.

The Dunk-a-Cop event, a grand finale to this year’s Polar Plunge fundraising events, raised more than $3,400 Saturday for Special Olympics of Oregon, according to an email from Polar Plunge Event Coordinator Kim Andresen Saturday evening. Earlier in the day Polar Plunge of Southern Oregon was nearing a $25,000 stretch goal. The event in downtown Grants Pass crushed it.

"Thanks to our communities in Jackson and Josephine counties, the Southern Oregon Polar Plunge has raised more than $28,000 during a tough year and we are so appreciative of the support," Andresen said in the email.

Among local plunging groups, the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety took the top spot in this year’s Polar Plunge with more than $9,000 raised.

The Plunging Eagles team — comprised of Eagle Point police and Jackson County Fire District 3 — was in second place as of Saturday afternoon with $4,923 raised, Medford police’s Blue Crew was in third place with $2,549 raised and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office’s Team JCSO was in fourth place with $2,273 raised.

Topping the list for individual fundraisers was Grants Pass Department of Public Safety Cadet James Loper with $2,431 raised for the team, in second place is Oregon State Police Trooper Ryan Gosse with $1,812 raised for OSP’s Copsicles South team and in third place is Medford Officer Dan Ashworth who raised $1,405 for MPD’s Blue Crew team.

The event in previous years drew law enforcement, firefighters and other community members across the Rogue Valley to a single outdoor pool to take the plunge; however, the pandemic prompted a transition to a month long “Freezin’ February” virtual event in which locals took to frigid waters on video in socially distant, safe manners according to videos posted on the Polar Plunge of Southern Oregon Facebook group.

Fundraising continues across Oregon through the end of March, according to Andresen. For info or to make a donation see support.soor.org.

Grants Pass Police Capt. Jim Hamilton climbs gets dunked Saturday as part of a Dunk-a-Cop fundraiser in downtown Grants Pass. Proceeds from the Polar Plunge of Southern Oregon event benefit Special Olympics of Oregon. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
Giselle Martinel of Sacramento throws a softball to dunk a Grants Pass police officer as part of a Dunk-a-Cop fundraiser Saturday at the Dutch Bros parking lot in downtown Grants Pass. Grants Pass police raised more than $5,000 this month for Special Olympics of Oregon in Polar Plunge of Southern Oregon fundraisers. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune.