243_plunge  - The Julie Gritton Team

Lewes Polar Bear Plunge 2022


Happy New Year to all!  With the start of the new year comes our first snow, the weather feeling more brisk, and the hope for some more positive firsts.  Although the first month of the year is already halfway through, February 6th which marks the first Sunday in February of 2022 is the date for the annual Lewes Polar Bear Plunge!  What is the Lewes Polar Bear Plunge and what is it all about?  We are so glad you asked!

            The Lewes Polar Bear Plunge is a fundraising event that is held on the first Sunday in February of each year that supports Special Olympics Delaware.  Participants have the option of participating as an individual Bear or as a team and plungers have the option of participating in-person at Rehoboth Beach by plunging at the scheduled time of 1:00 PM or virtually.  Leading up to the plunge on Sunday is a weekend-long festival which includes ice and sand sculpting demonstrations, a restaurant chili contest, a 5K race, and discounts available for Bears at several Rehoboth Beach restaurants and retailers.  So how did this event come to be?

            According to the Lewes Polar Bear Plunge official website (https://www.plungede.org/about/history-of-the-plunge/) it all started in 1983 with the members of the Lewes Polar Bears Club at Cape Henlopen State Park.  Members would take the plunge the first Sunday of each month from November to March with the exception of January when members would jump into the cold water on New Year’s Day.  In 1991, the club was approached by Special Olympics Delaware about doing a one of their plunges to benefit Special Olympics Delaware and the club agreed so on the first Sunday of February 1992 was the start of the annual tradition with 78 Bears at Cape Henlopen State Park.  Since the first inaugural event the Lewes Polar Bear Plunge has moved from Cape Henlopen State Park to its current home of Rehoboth Beach, records of over 3,000 Bears participating in single plunges, and a first completely virtual plunge in 2021.  Since the first plunge, this event has raised over $10 million dollars for Special Olympics Delaware with the numbers continuing to go up.

            The Special Olympics Delaware Chapter was put into motion in 1970 when Eunice Kennedy Shriver approached the president of the Wilmington Jaycees, Bob Marvel, about beginning the Delaware chapter for Special Olympics.  With the help of friends, funds were raised and volunteers and athletes brought together to have the first Special Olympics Delaware event which was held in 1971 at the old Wilmington High School as a track and field meet (https://www.sode.org/about/history-of-special-olympics-delaware-sode/) .  Since its inception, Special Olympics Delaware is an organization that currently supports 4,300 athletes with intellectual disabilities and provides competitions for 19 sports.  According to the Special Olympics Delaware website (https://www.sode.org/about/mission-and-vision/) their mission is to provide athletes with opportunities to participate in physical fitness, be a part of their community, and share their gifts and skills with their family and friends.

            With a little over three weeks left before the 2022 Lewes Polar Bear Plunge event, there is still plenty of time to sign up to help support Special Olympics Delaware or to add to your calendar to enjoy.  To find out more about the Lewes Polar Bear Plunge, Special Olympics Delaware, or how you can contribute to this event please feel free to click on the resources below.  Until then, stay warm and we on The Julie Gritton Team hope you have a wonderful day!