"This was more successful that I thought it would be," John Evon, regional director for the torch run, said. "We didn't start planning this until December."
Those who hopped into the lake needed to raise a minimum of $100 each for the cause but some had raised much more.
Spearheaded by the Police Department, the event is the newest addition to the fundraising efforts for the Special Olympics. The torch run program raised about $42 million nationally last year with some $225,000 being raised in Massachusetts, according to Steve Huftalen, director of special events for Special Olympics Massachusetts. Most notably, the LETR program raises funds through the annual Cop on Top program.
At a national conference, Police Officer Darren Derby heard that other communities raised money through plunges and since there wasn't one in Western Massachusetts, he organized one with other officers and the Hampden County sheriff's department.
"There has never been an actual plunge out here," Derby said. "We took the reins."
With a late start in planning, the officers were not sure how successful it would be. On Friday, they had raised about $6,000 but Saturday nearly doubled the amount with day-of registration.
Besides the money, local businesses donated food and drinks, volunteer emergency medical technicians were on site in case of medical emergencies and the Fire Department cut the hole in the lake and had a dive team standing by.
"All of the law enforcement here is doing it on his or her own time," Evon said.
Organizers said next year they hope to get an earlier start on planning so they can get the word out and raise even more.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Comments are closed for this article. If you would like to contribute information on this article, e-mail us at info@iBerkshires.com