By Paola Cardenas
The Village of Massapequa Town Board met Feb. 13 to approve the Town of Oyster Bay’s request to hang a banner on the Long Island Rail Road trestle on Cartwright Boulevard to announce the annual Special Olympics Polar Plunge.
The event benefits the Special Olympics of New York and its athletes. All participants gather at the beach to dive into the chilly waters for the cause. This year’s plunge will take place on Saturday, March 25, at Tobay Beach in Massapequa. Event registration will begin at 9:30 a.m., with the plunge scheduled for 11 a.m.
Special Olympics of New York raises money and promotes awareness of people in New York living with intellectual disabilities. The proceeds from the event go to providing sports year-round for more than 60,000 children with sports training and competitions in over 22 Olympic-style sports.
“We invite our residents, their family and friends to start their own Polar Plunge team, or come as individuals and join us at this wonderful event, which provides a charitable reason to spend a great day at the beach,” Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino said.
Some teams that are attending this year’s Town of Oyster Bay event include:
• CSEA Region 1, one of New York’s largest worker unions
• Troop 46 Farmingdale, Boy Scouts.
• H2M Ice Cubes, architects + engineers, consulting and design firm.
•Nassau County Police Department, 7th Precinct.
• The Dalers Varsity Swim and Dive Team, Farmingdale High School.
Joyce Cuggino, the executive assistant at H2M and team captain, said this will be her team’s third year at the Oyster Bay event, noting, “It’s fun — the camaraderie of being huddled up together under a tent. It’s also a good way to support the Special Olympics athletes.”
NYSO started as a summer camp for those living with learning disabilities in 1962. It fully incorporated as a nonprofit in 1968. Its mission is to give people with special needs “opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community,” according to the group’s website.
Event organizers ask that individual plungers raise at least $150 to receive a special Polar Plunge sweatshirt. Those who raise more than $250 will earn extra prizes and incentives after the plunge. Any teams are encouraged to raise money; however, there is no required goal.
Rebecca Hoffmann, NYSO director of development, said last year’s event raised $121,000 for the organization. The Town of Oyster Bay includes 19 incorporated villages and 17 unincorporated areas along Long Island’s North and South shores. The town has hosted this event for nearly a decade, bringing together all parts of the community.
Marta Kane, the town’s director of community relations, said, “The supervisor has participated in this event since taking office alongside other town and local officials.” Last year Saladino was joined by Oyster Bay Councilwoman Michele Johnson, then Nassau County Legislator Steve Rhoads (now a state senator), Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, North Hempstead Supervisor Jen DeSena, State Assemblyman Michael Durso and town Receiver of Taxes Jeff Pravato. DeSena is set to attend this year’s event.
“This event is a unique opportunity to do something wonderful,” Saladino said. “The plunge may be cold, but the cause will warm your heart. It’s a fun experience to collectively run into thewaters at Tobay, especially knowing all the good it provides to this great organization.”
Special Olympics holds Polar Plunge events throughout New York, including in Brookhaven, North Hempstead, Rochester, Fishkill and Ithaca, and at Splish Splash. However, the group also has other events such as a Fire Truck Pull, Plane Pull and Law Enforcement Torch Run. Even if you are not plunging, spectators are welcome at the event to watch.
For more information, visit nyso.org.