Legislative polar plunge raises awareness to Special Olympics Michigan

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)—This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Legislative Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Michigan. Although usually several Michigan legislators and staffers plunge into an icy cold pool on the capitol steps, this year expect 50 tiny pools spread across the Michigan capitol’s lawn. This year the initial fundraising goal was $500,000; however, over the past two months, those participating in the virtual polar plunge have raised $259,000.

Melissa McKinley is one of the event organizers for the Special Olympics Michigan Polar Plunge for the state legislator event which takes place each year. McKinley stated 2021 marks its 10th annual event; However, the pandemic made them change the format of this year’s polar plunge. McKinley stated donations were mostly raised on a virtual platform and raised over $600,000.

McKinley stated this surpassed their initial goal of $500,000.

“It raises awareness for special Olympics Michigan especially at the capitol and bringing their voice to the policy,” McKinley said, “and the issue that are really important to our athletes but it brings such an engagement from our legislature to report special Olympics here in Michigan.”

The change of 50 socially-distant pools coincides with COVID-19 safety-restrictions. The kiddie pools are typically 4-foot-deep and filled with icy-water. In previous years, the Polar Plunge raised over $1 million in funding, and in 2020 raised $1.37 million in donations.

Legislators from across the state gathered for the Legislative Polar Plunge. Sylvia Santana a member of the Michigan State who represents the 3rd district; and Annette Glenn, a state representative joined forces on Michigan state’s capitol to show their support.

“I love doing this for the simple fact that we’re helping the greater good,” Sylvia Santana stated, “and we’ve seen a lot of our students be able to do nationals because we’re able to support them through this effort of fundraising.”

“It is a great opportunity not only for bipartisanship but the house and senate to spend a little more time together all for a worthy cause,” Glenn exclaimed.


The Special Olympics Michigan uses the funds to provide inclusive sports, health, and school programs to over 23,000 Michigan participants. The Special Olympics Michigan provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for adults and children who suffer from disabilities. This nonprofit is supported almost entirely by corporate, donations, gifts, and events


The people who registered today participated are Sen. Jim Ananich (D-Flint), Sen. Marshall Bullock (D-Detroit), Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-East Lansing), Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit), Sen. Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth), Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit), Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck), Rep. Timmy Beson (R-Bay City), Rep. Mary Cavanagh (D-Redford), Rep. TC Clements (R-Temperance), Rep. Ben Frederick (R-Owosso), Rep. Roger Hauck (R-Mount Pleasant), Rep. Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores), Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy), Rep. Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo), Rep. Lori Stone (D-Warren), and Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit).

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