PITTSBURG — It’s almost time to put on wacky costumes and take the Polar Plunge.
The 14th annual Pittsburg Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics Kansas will be on Feb. 9 at Crimson Villas pool.
Participants will plunge into frigid waters in support of nearly 4,500 Special Olympics athletes.
The event will also feature a 5K Polar Strut fun run, chili cook-off and a costume contest with the theme “All Characters Welcome.”
The fundraiser has helped Special Olympics athletes like the New Hope Bulldogs participate in the highest division at the World Olympics Winter Games in Austria in 2017 and two others recently went to the USA Games and International Olympic Games.
The athletes compete in power lifting, track and field, bocce ball and more.
Aside from competitions, the fundraiser helps with the cost of equipment, healthy athlete programs, meal costs, healthy activities and other things which encourage healthy behaviors.
“These funds help with practicing, but also helps the individuals achieve their dreams and to be able to go and do the things that they dreamed of doing one day,” Special Olympics Kansas Director of Grants and Development Erin Fletcher said.
Last year, the Special Olympics Kansas met its fundraising goal of $25,000 from Polar Plunge and Struts. Special Olympics have the same goal this year.
“My favorite part is watching everyone come in with different envelopes, because they are so proud and it really warms their hearts and knowing their money is supporting athletes,” Fletcher said.  
The most fun part is watching everyone jump into the cold pool in their costumes, she said.
Fletcher said they are welcoming all cookey and wacky costumes.
To take the “plunge” people can register online at plungeks.org. Registration for the strut is also on the website. Registration is open online until day before the event and can register as individuals or groups.
There are options to sponsor an individual or a whole team.
Want to go?
The Pittsburg Plunge invites participants of all ages (under 18 requires parent or guardian signature) to take a dip in the icy waters of the Crimson Villas pool this winter.
Participants can take the plunge on their own with a minimum fundraising goal or join a group of friends and form a Plunge Team.
General plungers are required to raise a $75 minimum and Polar Stutters are required to raise a minimum of $30.
All participants will earn incentive Polar Bear Bucks to spend at the Official Special Olympics Kansas Swag Station based on the amount they raise.
Since jumping into a freezing pool is not for everyone, participants can choose to register for the event as a “Too Chicken to Plunge” participant. All chicken plungers are eligible to earn additional prizes as their pledges increase just like Polar Plungers, a release said.
Check-in / In-person registration is at 9 a.m. at Crimson Villas.
Strut Start begins at 10 a.m.
Chili Cook-off judging begins at 11 a.m.
Opening Ceremony and awards will be announced at 11:30 a.m.
The Polar Plunge and Chili Feed begin noon.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.