Planning for this year's Penguin Plunge in full swing
HAMPTON BEACH -; Hundreds of costumed and crazy swimmers will dive into the cold Atlantic waters on Feb. 1 and 2 for the 15th annual Special Olympics of New Hampshire Penguin Plunge.
The plunge has become the largest fundraiser for the statewide organization, which is part of an international movement to change lives by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide.
In 2013, the event brought in more than $655,975 for SONH and with 644 participants in 81 "flocks" taking part.
"Participating in the Penguin Plunge is an exciting way for people, businesses and high schools to raise money for the athletes of the Special Olympics," Mary Conroy, president of SONH, said. "The support we receive from the community through this event helps us provide year-round sports training and competition to 5,608 participants in the state."
Individuals are asked to raise a minimum of $350 for the Penguin Plunge and $175 for the High School Plunge.
The sixth annual high school plunge will take place on Saturday, Feb. 1, followed by the main event on Sunday, Feb. 2.
Many participants wear costumes coinciding with each year's theme. This year the theme for the High School Plunge is school spirit and the theme for the main Penguin Plunge is zombies.
Those not interested in braving the icy waters of the Atlantic can participate as "pampered penguins" and watch from the sidelines.
Following the plunge on Sunday, a massive party featuring live music, food, libations and awards is held at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom.
SONH was founded in 1970 with the first state summer games at Phillips Exeter Academy.
More than 5,000 New Hampshire athletes with intellectual disabilities now compete in 14 sports over six athletic seasons.
More information about how to register for the plunges is available at www.sonh.org or by calling 624-1250.