PITTSBURG — On Saturday, local Polar Plungers made a splash raising over $20,000 so far for Special Olympics Kansas.
The exact amount raised will be announced at a later date as more donations are being processed.
The Special Olympics Polar Plunge and Strut is part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run event which benefits Special Olympics. The fundraiser helps with the cost of equipment, cost of competitions, healthy athlete programs, meal costs, healthy activities and other things which encourage healthy behaviors.
Before plunging into the frigid water, the winners of the costume contest and fundraiser contest were announced.
Dressed as dalmatians, Team Mosaic won the team costume award and Clayton Lamb, “Banana Man” of Fort Scott Munitions won the individual contest.
The highest individual fundraiser was Sean Hurst, who has been plunging for Special Olympics since he was a child. He raised $2,400.   
“His goal is to beat me in fundraising one day,” Pittsburg Police Department Sgt. Chris Moore said.
The Pittsburg Police Department won highest team fundraiser.
Following the winners’ announcements, “Happy Birthday” was sung for Tawnya Bach from KOAM.
At the event Moore — wearing a Team Payton shirt — asked the crowd to have a moment of silence for Payton Kannarr, a 17-year-old St. Mary’s Colgan High School student who died Thursday. Payton had battled leukemia since she was 11.
The first to jump was the Frontenac Fire Department, which as per usual made their appearance with sirens, and dashing in ready to jump. Evidently, they decided that it wasn’t cold enough despite the single-digit water temperature.
They tossed buckets filled with ice in the pool and jumped in after it, leaving the temperature even more chilled for the following plungers.
“It was a cold day but it really warms your heart to see people support the athletes we have,” Special Olympics Kansas Grands and Development Director Erin Fletcher said.
Moore agreed.
“It means everything, it goes to show how great Southeast Kansas is,” he said.
Moore said they are already looking forward to 2020 Polar Plunge and Law Enforcement Torch Run event.
“I want to say thank you to everybody who donated and especially a thank you to everybody who participated,” he said.
— 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.