The Polar Plunge is an event where participants collect pledges in exchange for the opportunity to jump into Lake Lanier. The pledges go to benefit the athletes of Special Olympics Georgia and prizes are awarded for the best costume, highest fundraiser and highest fundraising team. The plunge is an annual event through the Law Enforcement Torch Run program.
Maj. John Clifton said this is the fourth year Johns Creek has participated and they are hoping to raise the most money. For the last three years, the department has raised the most money for the Torch Run program out of all Georgia law enforcement. Their only fundraisers this year are the Polar Plunge and the golf tournament in May, but last year the department raised $44,000 with those two fundraisers.
“That’s really just community support,” he said.
Along with participating as a Johns Creek police officer, Clifton serves as the assistant state director for the Georgia Torch Run. This will be Clifton’s third plunge and he said even if the unpredictable Georgia weather produces a warm day, the water at Lake Lanier is still cold.
“When you first jump in, it takes your breath away,” he said. “We’ve really tried to make it a festival-type atmosphere. It’s a fun day.”
Even though the temperature may be unpleasant, Clifton said the plunge is worth it when the officers get to see how the pledges they earn impact Special Olympics athletes.
“There’s a little over 24,000 athletes in the state of Georgia, and when you see these athletes and how they perform and how proud they are when they get their medals, it’s just something you always want to support,” he said.
The department “plungers” have raised over $6,000 so far and will be fulfilling their obligation later this month to jump in the icy waters.
“We do want people to support Johns Creek Police, but really we want them to support Special Olympics,” Clifton said.
“It’s one of those things — once you see it you see it’s really cool.”
Information: www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/ john-clifton/polar-plunge-2013.