Ken­nard stu­dents take the plunge

Record Observer - - Front Page - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @mike_k­ibay­times.

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.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

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.

PHO­TOS BY MIKE DAVIS

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.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

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.

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