Kennard students take the plunge
Members of the Kennard Elementary School Student Government Association, as well as other students in grades three through five, participated in the 2017 Maryland State Police Cool Schools Plunge on Thursday, Jan. 26, at Sandy Point State Park.
ANNAPOLIS — After three days of citizens from across the state charging into the chilly waters of the Chesapeake Bay in support of Special Olympics, more than $2 million was raised to support year-round athletic activities and competitions for the 24 sports offered to more than 7,000 athletes.
For the past 21 years, Marylanders have come to the beach at Sandy Point State Park in Anne Arundel County to run in and out of the water participating in the “coolest Maryland tradition,” the Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge.
Over the past 30 years, the event has raised more than $30 million.
For three days, people of all ages and backgrounds filled the park. With temperatures gradually cooling over the days, participants were greeted with mid-50 degree weather on Thursday, a reprieve from last year’s snowcovered beach. But by the event’s final day on Saturday, Jan. 28, the water was warmer than the air, a man over the loudspeaker announced.
Beginning on Thursday with Maryland elementary, middle and high schoolers, buses dropped students off to plunge during the Cool Schools event.
About 26 students from Kennard Elementary School made the trip from Centreville to the state park to be with hundreds of other students. Wearing a tiger beanie hat, little ears and all, the student government members, as well as students in grades three through five, ran out and slapped hands with the Maryland Natural Resources Police divers wading in the water.
Sarah Williams, Student Government Association co-coordinator with Stephanie Anthony, said it was the first year participating in the event. She said they wanted to be involved with the event to try to help the community.
Braving the Bay on Friday were more than 350 law enforcement officers, 50 firefighters and EMS personnel, and 50 military members, dressed from their daily uniforms to outrageous costumes — Michelangelo, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, made an appearance, as well as a man dressed as a bald eagle.
Jim Schmutz, president and CEO of Special Olympics Maryland, thanked the first responders for their service to the state and community, saying they were the pride of Mar yland.
Before the first responders and public defenders charged the Bay, Gov. Larry Hogan presented the Jimmy Myrick Governor’s Courage Award to a worthy Special Olympian. The award was named in honor of Myrick, a Special Olympian and friend Hogan made while receiving cancer treatments.
Special Olympian Adam Hays received the 2017 Jimmy Myrick Governor’s Courage Award for the work he completed throughout the year, which included more than 1,100 training miles completed. As a Super Plunger, Hays also raised more than $10,000. In the past 32 years, Hogan said, Hays has undergone 34 brain surgeries.
“In representing 7,311 Special Olympics Maryland athletes, you personify the mission of Special Olympics and the inspirational courage of Jimmy Myrick Jr.,” Hogan said. “You inspire all Marylanders to be better every day.”
For Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney Lance Richardson, who has participated in the event for the past several years, the water may be cold, but the cause is well worth it, especially seeing the athletes the event raises money to support and to see “how much they appreciate our efforts,” he said.
Richardson made the plunge with the Maryland State Police Centreville and Easton barracks.
“It is a great experience, to raise money for a worthy cause and get to spend time with the troopers outside of the courtroom. The plunge is invigorating but definitely a shock to the system,” Richardson said.
Closing out the festive events on Saturday were the two general entry plunges, consisting of more than 10,000 people. Other events during the day included the Pee-Wee and Family Plunges for ages 8 and younger, which took place in the kiddie pool sprinkled with ice cubes.
While waiting for their call to the water, attendees could drink free hot chocolate and coffee from Wawa, purchase food from trucks on site and drink beer while listening to live music in the Rams Head Ice Lodge. The featured headliners in the giant tent were Burnt Sienna and local band Hot Tub Limo.
For more information about Special Olympics Maryland, visit www.smod.org or call 410-242-1515.
Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney Lance Richardson stands with Gov. Larry Hogan and members of the Maryland State Police Centreville and Easton barracks during the Police, Fire, EMS and Military Polar Bear Plunge on Friday, Jan. 27, at Sandy Point State Park.
Hundreds of first responders and military members ran into the chilly waters of the Chesapeake Bay on Friday, Jan. 27, in support of Special Olympics Maryland during the 21st MSP Polar Bear Plunge.
Students from Kennard Elementary School run out of the Chesapeake Bay and back onto the Sandy Point State Park beach.
The Kennard Elementary School mascot waits for students back on the Sandy Point State Park beach after they entered the cold waters of the Chesapeake Bay participating in the Cool Schools Polar Bear Plunge on Thursday, Jan. 26.
Hundreds of first responders and military members ran into the chilly waters of the Chesapeake Bay on Friday, Jan. 27, in support of Special Olympics Maryland during the 21st Polar Bear Plunge.