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Pittsburgh Polar Plunge raises record-breaking $1 million for Special Olympics

Students take the plunge at Acrisure Stadium for Special Olympics
Students take the plunge at Acrisure Stadium for Special Olympics 02:17

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The 14th annual Pittsburgh Polar Plunge raised a record-breaking $1 million for the Special Olympics. 

The grand total is $1,075,901, an increase of nearly 50% compared to last year, the Special Olympics Three Rivers Region announced on Tuesday. The fundraising goal for this year had been set at $750,000. 

More than 4,300 "plungers" from local schools, community groups and corporations jumped into frigid waters outside Acrisure Stadium on Friday and Saturday and at Station Square earlier this month. The money raised will support the area's more than 4,000 Special Olympics athletes. 

"Pittsburgh continues to show up in huge ways for Special Olympics athletes in our community," said Andrew Fee, the executive director for Special Olympics Pennsylvania, Three Rivers Region. 

"This incredible milestone will help us increase our impact in the community by getting more individuals with intellectual disabilities engaged with our life-changing programming. Because of this historic achievement, we will be able grow the number of schools involved with Special Olympics as well as offer more sports, health, and leadership opportunities – at no charge – to athletes around our region." 

About 2,000 students from around the area also participated in the Cool Schools plunge Friday morning, and corporations raised over $100,000 on Friday at a happy hour plunge. 

Special Olympics Pennsylvania provides year-round training and competition in over 20 Olympic-type sports to 13,000 children and adults with disabilities. 

"People with intellectual disabilities suffer from social isolation, being told 'no' a lot in their life," Fee told KDKA-TV outside Acrisure Stadium on Friday. "Special Olympics allows them to come out, participate on a team, be a member of that team, and play sports, win gold medals."

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