Just five days before the 2014 Special Olympics Kentucky Polar Plunge was set to open in Bellevue, questions about the event swirled like the Polar Vortex winds that had invaded the Greater Cincinnati area. After the schedule for final day of the Kentucky State Winter Games had to be altered to accommodate dangerous cold on the Tuesday before the Plunge, many were asking how cold it would be on Plunge day or if the event could be held at all below certain temperatures.
However, once Plunge day dawned at Joe's Crab Shack in Bellevue, instead of Arctic cold, what blew into Bellevue felt more like tropical breezes as temperatures reached near 50 degrees by the end of the Plunge. While no official records are kept, that left everybody convinced that the 15th Polar Plunge in the area -- the first of the year and usually the coldest -- had its warmest day ever.
However, temperature wasn't the only record that fell as the Kentucky-Ohio Polar Plunge celebrated its 15th year. The event also set records for participants and dollars raised, as 885 people hit the pool, raising more than $181,000 for Special Olympics Programs in Kentucky and Ohio.
|Plunge King Scott Hildebrand (left) takes
the Plunge with members of his Campbell County FOP Lodge 10 team.
This year was a big one for new award winners with six of 10 top prizes going to new champions. The biggest of these was the Top Fundraising Team award, which went for the first time to the Below Zero Superheroes. A team made up largely of faculty, staff and students from Northern Kentucky University, the Superheroes had been on the threshold of claiming the prize each of the last several years, but had fallen just shy. This year, however, the Superheroes raised an impressive $14,481 -- more than $5,000 higher than last year's winning total -- to claim the trophy.
The only other team award that found a new home was the Polar Cup for largest corporate or civic organization team. This year that went to the Boone County Water Rescue Team. The team has been participating since the earliest years of the Plunge, and this year had 32 team members who raised $4,187. They also provided the water safety crews for the event.
All other new award winners were in individual categories. The Prince and Princess of the Plunge (top boy and girl fundraisers between 6 and 12 years old) went to William Warfel and Addison Mack, respectively. Warfel, 11, who plunged with Hamilton County (Ohio) Law Enforcement and Friends raised $621. Mack, 9, plunged with the Messer Construction team and
raised $410. Both William and Addison will receive personalized Polar Plunge jackets. The Top Too Chicken fundraiser, which goes to a fundraiser who chooses not to take the Plunge, went to Alison Taylor from the Batavia (Ohio) High School Business Professionals of America team, who raised $615. The Top Special Olympics Athlete fundraiser was David Neiser of team Ice Crazies who raised $760.
|Plunge Queen Kathryn Lovold (with trophy) and some of the Below Zero Superheroes celebrate their Top Fundraising Team award.
The two repeat team award winners were Campbell County FOP Lodge 10 and the Batavia High School Business Professionals of America, who claimed the Polar Cups for largest Law Enforcement and School Groups. Campbell County FOP Lodge 10 had 33 plungers who raised $8,444. Batavia High School brought an incredible 108 plungers who raised $10,795. It was 58 more plungers than Batavia brought when they won the year before.
The two big individual award winners simply extended their reigns. Scott Hildebrand of Campbell County FOP Lodge 10 and Kathryn Lovold of Below Zero Superheroes returned to their thrones as King and Queen of the Plunge as the event's top individual fundraisers while also captaining their respective teams to team honors. Hildebrand raised $3,481 while Lovold raised $2,959.
See More Pictures from the 2014 Polar Plunge
Our thanks to everyone who helped to make the event so memorable -- our Polar Plunge Committee; media partners Fox 19 and Q102, along with emcees Denise Johnson and Jon Jon; our tremendous host Joe's Crab Shack; Co-Sponsors Messer Construction, Republic Bank, Bellevue Vets, the City of Bellevue, AAA Travel, The Law Enforcement Torch Run, The Alleen Company, Comfort Suites and Aramark. We also need to thank the many volunteers who came out to help with registration, crowd control and other event needs. Special thanks to the Bellevue Police Department who do so many things to make the Polar Plunge possible.
The Kentucky-Ohio Plunge was one of six Polar Plunges held in Kentucky this year, with other events in Lake Cumberland, Lexington, Louisville, Owensboro and Western Kentucky. In all, nearly 3,000 people took the Plunge for Special Olympics Kentucky in 2014, raising more than $670,000.
2014 Kentucky-Ohio Plunge Award Winners
King of the Plunge — Scott Hildebrand, Campbell County FOP Lodge #10; $3,481 raised
Queen of the Plunge — Kathryn Lovold, Below Zero Superheroes; $2,959 raised
Prince of the Plunge — William Warfel, 11, Hamilton County Law Enforcement and Friends; $621 raised
Princess of the Plunge — Addison Mack, 9, Messer Construction; $410 raised
Top Too Chicken Fundraiser — Alison Taylor, Batavia High School Business Professionals of America; $615 raised
Top Too Special Olympics Athlete Fundraisers — David Neiser, Ice Crazies; $760 raised
Polar Cup Corporate Division — Boone County Water Rescue; 32 members, $4,328.50 raised
Polar Cup School Division — Batavia High School Business Professionals of America; 108 members, $11,100 raised
Polar Cup Law Enforcement Division — Campbell County FOP Lodge #10; 33 members, $8,444 raised
Top Fundraising Team — Below Zero Superheroes, 49 members; $13,022 raised