South Bend Cubs host fifth annual Polar Plunge

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. – The annual Polar Plunge that supports the Special Olympics is going to look a little different this year. 

The South Bend Cubs are hosting the fifth annual Polar Plunge at Four Winds Fields on Sunday, March 21.

One of the main changes during the event is the way people will attend and participate in the polar plunge. 

 “Everything was all about big groups and crowd excitement. Well, because of covid still, we are doing, all the events are set up one way,” Special Olympics Indiana Director of Program, Buzz Lail said. 

 Every year supporters raise money for Indiana Special Olympic athletes by taking part in the polar plunge. The goal this year for South Bend is to raise at least $25,000 so far, they’ve raised about &18,000. 

 Due to the pandemic, there will not be large crowds and organizers aren't encouraging spectators to be at the event.

Lail said once participants check-in for the event, they will spread everyone out in a line, spacing out individuals and teams. Every participant is required to wear a face mask until they take the plunge. On-site registration starts at 11 a.m. The plunge will take place between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

“This year we’re sending people home with their prizes and t-shirts. It’s you know, going to flow a little quicker and a little differently,” Lail said.

So far, over 100 participants have pledged to take the plunge. However, jumping into a cold body of water may seem like a crazy idea. But, over the past 22 years, thousands of Hoosiers have raised money for the Special Olympics by doing just that! One of the top contributors in Michiana this year, Elkhart High West teacher Todd Sheely, will be jumping for the fourth year in a row. 

“The Polar Plunge offers us an opportunity to one, be taken out of our comfort zone as a group because it's not warm, but comparatively speaking to some of the difficulties that others in our lives face, Sheely said. “Me being cold for less than five minutes isn’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things.”

Sheely said raising money is part of being a Champion School through Champions Together Indiana,a school-based organization that partners with Special Olympics Indiana. Sheely said there are four pillars a Champion school must meet.

“One of the pillars you need to meet is fundraising, philanthropy, and donation more or less, to Special Olympics Indiana,” Sheely said.

The goal for the plunge is to raise at least $1,500. This year, Sheely said raising funds was pretty tough this year. It took his team nearly two months to raise over $1,600.

“We used Twitter, Facebook, friends, and so forth. But people are having some hard times, and so we didn’t get the big donations until the other day we got an anonymous donor who pushed us over the hunk,” Sheely said.

Sheely will be taking the plunge along with one student-athlete at Elkhart High West. You can donate to the cause at

If you can't make it to the Polar Plunge, the South Bend Cubs will be live streaming the plunge on their Facebook page .


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