ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Droves of people came to Ontario Beach Park on Sunday, prepared to endure the freezing conditions, all for a good cause. Droves of people, many in little more than a swimsuit, charged into the icy water, the temperature of which hovered barely above freezing.
Emergency personnel were nearby to make sure no one succumbed to the freezing water.
The roughly 2,000 swimmers, who stormed into the ice waters, were part of the 18th annual Rochester Polar Plunge. People, in costumes and swim trunks, could register individually, or as a group. It was all part of an effort to raise money for Special Olympics New York. The fundraiser managed to raise more than $275,000 for the cause.
"The community really comes together,” said Sal Gerbino, the event organizer. “The Rochester area is known for being a giving community. We give them the opportunity to do some crazy stuff, while benefiting a very worthy cause: the athletes of Special Olympics."
With more than 71,000 athletes, Special Olympics New York is the largest chapter in North America. Many even joined in on the fun as well.
"Today, we actually had another special Olympian who lost his team,” said Tom Lauler, a participant. “He couldn't find his team members, so we adopted him and took him out into the water. Amanda here took him all the way out to the end of the pool there. He loved it."
Whether swimmers were dressed as a Superhero, or a Samurai, the frigid fundraising was the mission accomplished.