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Alisa Lively, representing the Upshur County Special Olympics, speaks at the Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur's meeting Dec. 19. (Photo by Monica Zalaznik)

‘Freezin’ for a Reason’: Special Olympics Polar Plunge to return to Buckhannon in February 2024

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Special Olympics is challenging locals to take the shiver-inducing polar plunge this February for a heart-warming cause.

Upshur County Special Olympics Director Alisa Lively, and Tasha Carrico, a local Special Olympics representative and athlete, attended the Dec. 19 Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur meeting to invite members to participate in the second annual Buckhannon Polar Plunge.

The event will take place Feb. 10 at the Riverwalk Boat Ramp, with registration opening at 12:30 p.m. The costume contest will occur at 1:30 p.m., and the plunge will happen at 2 p.m. An after-party will take place at the Opera House, which will be free for plungers and a $10 donation fee for everyone else.

“In Upshur County, we have athletes who participate and practice year-round in 11 sports statewide,” Carrico said. “We have lots of volunteers and coaches that assist with practices, competitions and fundraising. It takes a village not only to keep our county functioning but at the state level as well.”

The proceeds raised will help provide year-round sports training and competition for thousands of athletes with intellectual disabilities. Each participant makes a donation before they plunge. A

$50 donation earns the plunger a T-shirt; a $200 donation earns them a toboggan and T-shirt; and a $350 donation equals a hoodie, toboggan and T-shirt.

Finally, a $500 donation earns a gift certificate for dinner plus a hoodie, toboggan and T-shirt.

Carrico said the group managed to raise $17,000 last year, and their goal this year is $20,000. Lively explained how donations work and what they fund.

“Special Olympics West Virginia and Special Olympics Upshur County are two separate entities, but we are really one,” Lively said. “When you donate to Special Olympics Upshur County, it goes directly to our athletes and our county, and when you donate to West Virginia’s Special Olympics, we do benefit from it when we go to the state competitions and regional competitions.”

“It’s a win-win whether you support one or the other, but donations to Special Olympics Upshur County go directly to athletes like Tasha and all her friends,” she added.

Lively said Special Olympics Upshur County accepts athletes from ages eight to 88 years old.

“We don’t have any 88-year-olds, but we have some 67-year-olds, and Tasha has been involved with Special Olympics since around the age of 12,” Lively said. “She and my daughter started cheerleading in 1997 at West Virginia Wesleyan College when the Bonner scholars were coaches. We had student coaches who coached our basketball team and our cheerleading team, and we won gold that year, so ever since, we’ve been involved in lots of different competitions across the state.”

No pre-registration is required for in-person plungers, and more details about how to participate may be found on Special Olympics West Virginia’s Polar Plunge website.

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