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Special Olympics Pennsylvania Replaces Polar Plunge With Social Media Challenge To Raise Money And Awareness

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It's the end of the workweek and Chief Matt Porter of Port Authority Police can barely keep his head above water, literally.

"Woo! It's cold," he shouted as a backhoe dumped 50 ice-cold gallons of water over him.

Polar Pop
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

The freezing Thursday morning moment happened for a thawing cause.

"Law enforcement does a ton of work year-round for the Special Olympics with the Law Enforcement Torch Run, and raising money and awareness. We take a lot of pride in it," said Chief Porter.

The chief joined over 1,500 others participating in the PA Polar Pop. It's the virtual version of the annual Polar Plunge organized by Special Olympics Pennsylvania, which was pushed online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The challenge involves posting a video of yourself popping a water balloon over your head to social media using the hashtag #PAPolarPop and #FreezinForAReason.

"I want to see a big balloon. I don't want to see a little tiny thing. I want to see a nice, big balloon. Pop that balloon over your head and then promote it. Push it out onto your social media," said Jessica Kury, the events director for Special Olympics Pennsylvania.

The Polar Plunge is the organization's biggest fundraiser of the year, generating over $1.5 million. With the virtual fundraiser, dollars have decreased by more than half, totaling around $400,000 as of Thursday, according to Kury.

All the while, the need for those fundraising dollars has increased.

"We actually need more equipment now. Normally, you are at a location. You can show up to your location and you can practice together and you have your equipment. Now we have to get that to the athletes," Kury said.

When the games resume, the Special Olympics will need money for housing, busing, food and other expenses. This is why officials are really hoping the online version of the Polar Plunge pops off.

Video submissions for the Polar Pop close Friday, Feb. 26. Click here to register.

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