Montana Special Olympics athletes, supporters prep for the Polar Plunge

Posted at 9:59 AM, Dec 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-01 12:21:07-05

GREAT FALLS — The annual Christmas Stroll will be on Friday, Dec. 3 in downtown Great Falls, and one of the highlights is the Polar Plunge, conducted by the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which helps raise money for Special Olympics athletes across the state.

The event features teams of "plungers" - sometimes in costume or with a theme - who jump into a frigid pool of water after receiving donated pledges from supporters.

Two of this year's participants are athlete Jamie Darko and Lieutenant Zach Semenza of the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office.

Semenza said, "I take a lot of pride in the work I do for Special Olympics because you know, when I see people like my buddy Jamie here, this is like their livelihood. This is what they look forward to. Hanging out, playing their sports, and doing their events and everything. It makes it all worth it."

The event means a lot to officers like Semenza, who have always supported the organization. “My brother is a Special Olympic Athlete too. I’ve been pretty involved in Special Olympics my whole life,” he said. “When I took the job in law enforcement, this is something that just really hit home. I knew I could make a difference.”

Anyone can sign up and join the icy fun, either by going online or by registering on the day of the event. A table will be set up at 511 Central Avenue at the Stroll.

Semenza encourages people to sign up and get registered to support the local Special Olympics. “You see what kind of an impact this event can have on the Special Olympics, it’s kind of rewarding,” Semenza said.

The event is fun for spectators and participants; Darko said, “I love seeing my friends jump into the cold plunge because I miss them so much.”

The Polar Plunge kicks off at 7 p.m. for those brave enough to endure the “brrrrr!”

Click here to find other teams to support if you would like to help.