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Dozens of people braved the cold to participate in the annual Polar Plunge for a good cause

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Posted at 3:30 PM, Mar 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-06 19:27:45-05

DENVER — As the snow came down and temperatures took a dip across the state, the annual Polar Plunge and 5K race kicked off on Sunday.

The walk and run started first thing in the morning with dozens of families braving the cold to get a little exercise in for a good cause.

The annual Polar Plunge happened right after the race at Washington Park in Denver.

Dozens of families braved the frigid waters for the cause dressed in fun outfits.

Denver7 anchor Jason Gruenauer emceed the event and took the plunge himself as did Denver7 weekend anchor Jaclyn Allen.

All of the proceeds from the event go to Special Olympics Colorado, whose mission is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competitions for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

"I think we'll reach $130,000 goal today, and tons of teams that brought lots of money," said Jan Gordon, the vice president of development for Special Olympics Colorado. "We had the DPD Academy raise over $50,000, just the academy alone."

In a strategic plan laid out by Special Olympics Colorado last year, the nonprofit laid out some key priorities for the next five years including working to improve the health of athletes, engage families, offer quality sports and programming, increase diversity and equity within the organization and work on volunteer education and engagement among other things.

The goal of the strategic plan is to engage 4,000 new athletes and 40 new local programs to better serve the community. The organization already serves more than 15,000 athletes through a variety of programs, including some in schools.

Organizers of the polar plunge told Denver7 this is about so much more than the sports, it's also about building up every aspect of these athletes' lives.

"It's about, you know, building confidence and inclusivity and then being a part of something outside of themselves and being a part of our community," Gordon said.

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Special Olympics Colorado hosted a Zoom panel last week to share some of the stories of their athletes who have been able to find community and competition through the nonprofit.