CELEBRITIES and sports personalities braved icy waters, for a good cause, in Johannesburg, South Africa during the fifth annual Special Olympics South Africa (SOSA) polar plunge.
The polar plunge, a dive in a pool with five tons of ice, was an effort to raise funds for the 2021 SOSA national team who are set to travel to Winter Games Russia. Over 150 celebrities, sports stars, industry members and corporations pledged to take the plunge in support of athletes living with intellectual disabilities.
The Special Olympics is a global sports development organization operating in over 180 countries – serving more than 7 million athletes with intellectual disabilities. As the largest amateur sporting federation in the world the Special Olympics also serves as the largest public health provider for people with intellectual disabilities – a phenomenal feat for any sports body.
The key element of this year’s plunge was an effort to raise funds for the SOSA national team to compete in the 2023 Winter Games held in Kazan, Russia.
An effort that ensures that athletes with intellectual disabilities are awarded the same opportunities to compete as mainstream athletes.
The initiative set a target of R100 000 ($6 716,54) after the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic left athletes without resources to travel. Close to R150 000 ($10 074,81) was amassed in a successful event held at the Altitude Beach Bar in Fourways, South Africa.
The Special Olympics offers an inclusive approach to sports regardless of socio-economic background, race, gender, or present medical challenges – a rare feat for any sports body.
‘I am overwhelmed at the number of well-known individuals who came out today to plunge into ice cold water to show their support of not only our National Team, but of an inclusive society for all in South Africa.” said Chairperson of the South African Special Olympics board Dr. Mathews Phosa.
“People living with an intellectual disability in South Africa are marginalised and neglected; it is so important to see powerful young people who have a voice showing their support. Madiba brought this movement to South Africa and I know that today’s event would have made him proud!’ Phosa concluded.
About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is a global inclusion movement using sport, health, education and leadership programs every day around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1968, and celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 7 million athletes and Unified partners in more than 180 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers Olympic type and over 108,000 games and competitions
The Polar Plunge
Founded in the US, the Polar Plunge is an annual fundraiser presented by Special Olympics USA as a fun and unique opportunity for individuals, organisations and businesses to support Special Olympics athletes by raising money to jump into frigid Icy waters. The Plunge has been supported by a number of celebrities in the United States including Lady Gaga, Jimmy Fallon, Vince Vaughn, Dax Shepard, Alec Baldwin, Johnny Knoxville and the Mayor of New York amongst others.