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Polar Plunge at Oneida Shores raises money for Special Olympics New York

Ashley Scott, center, and other members of Brooke’s Splash Puppies emerge from Oneida Lake Sunday morning after taking the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics New York. The team raised about $1,300 for the organization in honor of Special Olympian Brooke Jones (not pictured), who also took the plunge.

Ashley Scott, center, and other members of Brooke’s Splash Puppies emerge from Oneida Lake Sunday morning after taking the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics New York. The team raised about $1,300 for the organization in honor of Special Olympian Brooke Jones (not pictured), who also took the plunge. Photo by Sarah Hall.

— On Sunday morning, Onondaga County Parks Director Bill Lansley and several of his co-workers ran into Oneida Lake in their suits.

Had they gone mad?

Nope.

Lansley, along with Kim Hall, Nate Stevens, Bob Ellis and Meg Belovich, plus hundreds of others, were participants in the sixth annual Polar Plunge for Special Olympics New York (NYSO), a fundraising event at Oneida Shores that included live entertainment, prizes, face painting, hot chocolate and coffee from sponsor Dunkin Donuts and more, along with the signature dip in the chilly waters of Oneida Lake.

Local athletes headed to South Korea

Three athletes from this area will be heading to South Korea to compete in the Special Olympic Games in January — Pae, of Ithaca, was born in South Korea; this will be her first time back. She will be joined by Kim from Rome and John from Cortland. We wish you luck!

So what inspired Lansley and his colleagues to take the plunge?

“We love the Special Olympics because of the great work that they do,” he said. “We hold some of their events at Highland Forest and throughout the county, so we showed our support in this as well as with the Games.”

The group decided to outfit themselves in their traditional work garb for the costume contest taking place before the plunge.

“You’re supposed to come in costume,” Lansley said. “We spend a lot of time in these suits every day, so it’s kind of appropriate. It’s what we do every day. We just wanted to be really different.”

And how did they feel after emerging from the lake into the rainy, 47-degree day?

“Cold,” Lansley said. “But not bad.”

It was worth it, he said, to support such a good cause. Through year-round sports training and athletic competition and other related programming for more than 3.5 million children and adults with intellectual disabilities in more than 180 countries, Special Olympics was founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver. The New York chapter was organized by Dorothy Buehring Phillips in 1969. Since that time, the organization has grown to become one of the largest sports programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities in the United States. In fact, NYSO is the largest Special Olympics chapter in the United States and the sixth largest chapter in the world.

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