Funds support local Special Olympics Missouri athletes

Mexico is having ideal weather to keep the water in Kiwanis Lake frigid enough for the 2013 Polar Pear Plunge. Area teams are still signing up for the Feb. 16 activities planned in Plunkett Park.
Registration for the Mexico Plunge begins at noon, and the plunge will start at 2 p.m. An after-plunge party will follow at St. John's Lutheran Church.
The plunge is a unique opportunity for individuals, organizations, schools and businesses in the Mexico area to support the local Special Olympics Missouri athletes. Proceeds from the event support the year-round sports training and competitions for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
The Mexico Public Safety Department and 12th District Drug Court have sponsored the local event since it started in 2008. This year marks the fifth year.
"We're hoping that it isn't too cold," said MPSD Lt. John Carter, a Plunge coordinator and participant. "We've had a lot of youths, athletes and the parents of athletes that have signed up; so far, 13 teams. We'd like to see more."
Carter said the Polar Plunge Committee needs tents for the plungers to use while changing out of their wet clothing. Anyone interested in donating or loaning their tent for the event, can contact Carter at Mexico City Hall, (573) 581-2100.
Each year, the community helps to support and improve the Polar Bear Plunge with donations and/or labor. This year, the Mexico City Parks and Recreation Department placed new sand around the plunge area, and members of the Unstoppable Dawgs Special Olympics team, along with public school teams plan to offer concessions during the event. The Missouri Military Academy hosts the annual basketball camp and regional camp finals, held in January and March. St. John's Lutheran Church opens its doors each year for the after-plunge party, and its members help serve the free meal. Additionally, Mexico Public Safety officers and City of Mexico staff offer their services wherever needed – as scuba divers in the water, in rescue boats and on the sidelines assisting plungers.
Carter said that sponsorships are still needed and that solicitations for donations are continuing.
The cost to plunge is $75. Participation is open to anyone 10 years or older. Plungers will earn bragging rights for participating and a free commemorative sweatshirt. The Gold Plunger Award will also be presented.
Participants can register by contacting Penny Smith or John Carter at the Mexico Public Safety Department, 581-2100; or on-line at
"Spectators from everywhere are encouraged to attend," Carter said.