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Polar Plunge Raises $52K For Special Olympics

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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More than 220 people jumped into Onota Lake on Saturday to raise money for the Special Olympics. See more photos here.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — More than 220 people took a dip into a cold Onota Lake Saturday, raising more than $52,000 for the Special Olympics.

Led the team Joshua Jumpers, who rallied 23 plungers and more than $9,000, the second annual Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge by far exceeded its goals.

Organizers had originally hoped to double last years when 27 jumpers raised $11,000.

The event was boosted with the addition of a chili, chowder festival and live music. Area schools joined the cause this year, sending their teachers and administrators into the cold water.

Organizers envision the plunge becoming the next Winter Carnival, which the city stopped hosting a few years earlier.

In groups of four, the plungers dove into a hole cut into the lake by the Fire Department while the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department Dive Team stood by in case of emergency. EMTs were also on hand.

The plunging itself took about an hour and half and then the music, food festival kicked off. Snow fell for most of the morning but it didn't keep the plungers away. With more than 200 people on the lake, water displaced from the hole poured over much of the lake, wetting the feet of onlookers and giving the participants a feel of the 38 degree bath they were about to take.

The plunge is one of many events put on throughout the year by the Law Enforcement Torch Run, with the proceeds going to the Massachusetts Special Olympics. The most known event is the annual Cop on Top when area officers camp out on the roof of WalMart for a weekend.

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