Special Olympics Penguin Plunge Goes DIY

Creative solution allows annual fundraising plunge to move forward
Penguin Plunge 29

Participants plunge into the icy Atlantic at last year’s event. (SONH photo)

You’d think plunging into the ocean in the dead of winter would be rather chilly.

You’d be right.

“Here’s the interesting thing,” Special Olympics New Hampshire Senior Communications Manager Mark Ericson says. “It’s cold, man. It’s a shock to the system.”

Yet scores of people do just that every year around this time as part of Special Olympics New Hampshire’s (SONH) Penguin Plunge – the organization’s most important annual fundraiser. With COVID-19 altering events everywhere, SONH was forced to get creative. This year’s Penguin Plunge will be a do-it-yourself event.

“We owe it to our athletes to continue to offer innovative and fun ways that they can participate from home until it is safe to return to the field,” SONH President and CEO Mary Conroy says. “Funds raised through the Penguin Plunge will allow us to do just that.”

Here’s how to take part:

  • Plungers sign up online at SONH.org, link to their own social media channels, and raise funds through the recently-upgraded platform.
  • Participants then receive a “Plunge Pail” stuffed with a range of swag, based on the amount of money raised.
  • Then, from February 3-7, brave souls take the plunge, with the theme of “Oh, the Places We’ll Go,” and the direction that “each plunger determine where they will find water and safely take the plunge.”

“During the typical plunge, we’d gather at the Casino Ballroom on Hampton Beach,” Ericson says. “We’d have the costume contest, hand out goodies and other things, and the plunge would start at noon.”

Normally, a number of waves of plungers take to the chilly waters of the Atlantic during what has become a two-day event. Then, everyone would hit the changing trailers and head back into the Casino to tally up the money raised. Due to social distancing requirements, the typical event couldn’t be arranged, so SONH worked to retool the annual plunge, creating a viable alternative. The money raised will play a critical role in SONH programming through the rest of the year.

“2021 gives us a great opportunity to reinvent one of the most notable fundraising events in the Granite State,” says Chelsea Gill, director of special projects for SONH. “We’re thinking of it as Plunge 2.0.”

Plungers are asked to keep it safe and follow all state and local guidelines regarding COVID-19, and to tag social media photos, videos or posts using the #sonhplunge.

What: Special Olympics New Hampshire’s Penguin Plunge
When: February 3-7, 2021
How: Sign up at sonh.org
Where: DIY – but be safe
Also: Photos and videos, tag #sonhplunge

Categories: Things to Do, Winter Events