Special Olympics York County hosts 10th annual Polar Bear Plunge

WRIGHTSVILLE, Pa. -- Shrieks of delight, and maybe shock, filled the air in Wrightsville, York County Saturday, as hundreds of people raced into the chilly waters of the Susquehanna River and raced right back out.

The mid-winter dip is part of the 10th annual Polar Bear Plunge hosted by Special Olympics York County. Organizers say the event is one of the biggest fundraisers for Special Olympics programs.

Special Olympics York County organizes sports programs year-round for athletes with special needs. 360 athletes currently participate in the organization's 15 sports programs, which are entirely volunteer-run and donation-funded.

Not everyone is brave enough to take a dip in the icy river, but volunteer fundraising leader for Special Olympics York County, Krista Gardner, says anyone willing to donate is welcome at the Polar Bear Plunge.

"We have people who plunge and actually go in the water," she says, "and then we have our chicken plungers, people who still want to raise money and support Special Olympics. They do the chicken dance, they don't get in the water, but it's all the same to us."

Experienced plungers say the secret to avoiding the shock, is to stay cold.

"The best thing to do to prep," said Heather Kreiser, "is to stay as cold as possible about 30 minutes beforehand."

Kreiser says she's plunged at each of the last 10 Polar Bear Plunges hosted by Special Olympics York County.