The folks at the Special Olympics are offering people a chance they hope nobody will want to miss.
They can jump into ice-cold water on Saturday as their friends, Special Olympics supporters and Montana State University-Northern football fans cheer them on.
The money will be used to fund the many sporting events Special Olympics provides to area developmentally challenged people.
The annual Sub-Zero, Super-Hero Polar Plunge will be held at Blue Pony Stadium this year right after the Northern Lights football game with Dickinson State.
The new venue will increase the number of people watching the event and hopefully add to the number of people willing to take the plunge for the cause, said Shaylee Lewis, the Havre High School teacher who coordinates the event. Having the plunge in such a public place will also raise awareness of the Special Olympics, she said.
Havre Police and the Havre Sector of the U. S. Border Patrol are sponsoring the event, but other police agencies are taking part, she said.
Special Olympics offers basketball, swimming, snowshoeing, track and other events, she said.
The program offers enjoyment to the athletes and helps build self-esteem as well as physical skills.
Anyone who has raised $100 in pledges can jump into the frigid water, said Mandy Hansen, the Harlem kindergarten teacher who handles publicity for the event.
But some people raise far more, she said. One person had friends so excited about seeing the jump into the ice water that they donated several thousand dollars, she said.
Hansen took part in the jump festivities one year, she recalled.
The cold water affected her in ways she never expected.
“I was frozen, ” she said. “I couldn’t talk. ”
Friends immediately had one reaction.
“They said, ‘Mandy, we never saw you speechless, ’” she recalled.
Rather than repeat that experience, this year, she said, she will take part in the “chicken program. ” She and others will collect pledges without having to jump in the water. That program, she said, is available to “everyone who is a chicken or who can’t do it because of doctor’s orders. ”
People can pick up pledge forms at Havre High School or the Havre Police Department, Hansen said. Or they can just show up at the game on Saturday.
They can register online at http://www.firstgiving.com/mtletr.
Check-in will begin at 11:45 a. m. Saturday, she said. The plunge will begin right after the end of the game, roughly 3:30 p. m., she said.
While the water will be cold, the weather may not be. The Weather Channel predicts a high of 50 degrees for Saturday.
The plunge will be lots of fun, she said, but there will be a moment of sorrow.
Blaine County Undersheriff Pat Payette always enjoyed the festivities, she said. Every year, he took the plunge to raise money for Special Olympics.
Payette was killed when a motorist struck him while he was directing traffic on U. S. Highway 2 between Chinook and Harlem.
Plunge organizers will present Payette’s family with a plaque honoring his service, Hansen said.