WJTV News Channel 12 - Hundreds jump into cold water to raise money for nonprofit

Hundreds jump into cold water to raise money for nonprofit

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ONSLOW BEACH, N.C. -

Despite the rain, nearly 500 people made it out to the beach Saturday in Onslow County. They jumped into the ocean's cold waters and ran right back out, but it was all for a good cause.

The 7th annual Polar Plunge at Camp Lejeune raised more than $21,000 this year for Special Olympics Onslow County, a nonprofit that gives sports training and competitions for the disabled.

"We're just out here freezin' for a reason," said Vince Ardito, who took the plunge.

Hundreds of people charged into the Atlantic Ocean, unafraid of the water's bitterly cold temperatures.

"It felt really good. I'm freezing right now, but that's OK. Go Special Olympics, North Carolina!" said Phoebe Comeau, a participant.

Many people who took the plunge paid a $25 registration fee to participate, money that ultimately goes to help kids like 16-year-old Abigail Dingler, a Special Olympics participant.

"I've been in Special Olympics since sixth grade and it's been awesome," said Dingler.

Dingler has cerebral palsy, after being born three months premature. Her dad says Special Olympics gives her a chance to take part in events she normally couldn't.

"This event helps raise a lot of the money that they use for those, and my daughter Abigail participates in those events. She loves them," said Christopher Dingler, Abigail's dad.

The money raised will pay for uniforms, travel expenses, equipment, and housing for the Special Olympics athletes.

"If we didn't have this fundraiser, we would only have one or two things a year. And that's it," said Dawn McCullen, Special Olympics Onslow County coordinator.

Taking the plunge helps the kids feel included, giving them a chance to build friendships and self-esteem, she said.

"I'm doing this because one of my friends, their son has Down syndrome, and I have a son with autism. Special needs hits me home," said participant Nohelia Guillot.

The polar plunge also included door prizes, a sand castle contest, and a costume contest.

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