The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

Fundraisers plunge in Willamette River to support Special Olympics Oregon

Miky Pope
Participants run into the lake at the polar plunge on the Willamette Boat Landing at Crystal Lake Sports Fields on February 17th, 2024.

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

On a cold and rainy Saturday morning in February, these stoic words were said aloud––the motto of Special Olympics Oregon, which was holding the 14th annual Corvallis Polar Plunge at the Willamette Boat Landing. The plunge is held yearly in several locations across Oregon, all of which benefit SOOR athletes.

According to Corvallis Polar Plunge Manager Jessica Carpenter, the plunge is the largest annual fundraiser for SOOR, which supports 5,000 athletes statewide. Carpenter managed last year’s Polar Plunge, and has a daughter who is a Special Olympics athlete.

She equated the event to a jogathon, where plungers raise money through sponsors. Donations from the event have steadily increased over the years, with former events raising anywhere from $40,000 to 50,000. “I’d like to say it’s because of my management,” joked Carpenter. 

The event was held for two years virtually due to COVID, with participants plunging in pools and with water buckets.

This year, the polar plunge’s fundraising goal was $90,000, according to Carpenter, and as of Feb. 23, $68,100 had been raised. Donations remain open through the remainder of February and March, and are collected in cash, check or online.

Registration for the event opened at 10 a.m., with multiple vendors having tents set up in and around the registration area. 

Roughly 500 individuals divided into 43 teams registered for the event, many of whom were from local high schools, fraternities and sororities. At 11 a.m., teams began taking turns running, jumping, or in most cases, walking into the frigid river waters. Corvallis Police Department divers oversaw safety at the event, in addition to a police boat patrolling the nearby waters.

CJ, an attendee and member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, said he was apprehensive of floating downriver.

Many participants donned costumes, with keen-eyed spectators being able to spot Aquaman and a lobster plunging into the river and giving high-fives to the police divers. Special guest Jeffery the sheep returned from last year’s event, donning Oregon State themed orange and black regalia.

Earl, a plunger representing another fraternity, provided a statement prior to plunging, “Earl is very cold.” After plunging, Earl provided a further statement, “I got colder.” Other plungers, when asked how they were feeling post-plunge, stated, “Cold!” “Great!” “Wonderful!” “So warm!”

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