Connect with us

North Dakota

Williston polar plunge to help bring Special Olympics back to community



Williston, North Dakota – Williston’s “Special Olympics” community has been without a branch for many years. Despite this, the police department continues to host “Polar Plunges” in the hopes of attracting more participants. The program holds a very special place in the hearts of some individuals of the community.

Public Information Officer for the Williston Police Department, Heather Cook serves the community in this capacity. Maverick, who is six years old and lives with his mother, has autism.

“We’ve known for about four years. He goes to ABA Therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy,” said Cook.

On Saturday, many people, including Heather, are going to participate in an event called the “Polar Plunge.” It is important to her to provide opportunities for her son to take part in various activities.

“When we drop [our daughter] Riley off at gymnastics, he gets upset because he doesn’t get to stay and do it with her. It just gives him that opportunity that I think some kids may not have,” said Cook.

People who have impairments are given the opportunity to take part in a variety of sports and compete against other athletes thanks to the Special Olympics. Williams County Emergency Manager Mike Smith had two children who participated in the program in Oklahoma. Both of his children are now adults.

“It was something that I think changed their lives and made them very happy. They were always excited to go to the meets and practices. They were with kids like themselves,” said Smith.

Because supporters are working to revive the community program, taking part in this year’s polar plunge carries with it an added sense of importance.

“Any money we fundraise in the Williston area. It is set aside for our program. It hasn’t been spent for anything else. All of it will come directly back to rebuilding the program,” said Cook.

Competition is a means for persons with disabilities to engage in social activities and gain new experiences, as Cook and Smith have found via their participation in Special Olympics. People in Williston may have a chance to take part in that activity once more if the community rallies behind them through activities such as the Polar Plunge.

On Saturday, the Upper Missouri Valley Fairgrounds will play host to the annual Polar Plunge. The event will begin with a live auction at 11 a.m., and the actual event will begin at 12:30 p.m. Food, entertainment, and activities will be provided for people of varying ages.

Everyone who is going to “take the plunge” into the freezing waters is required to raise a minimum of one hundred dollars in order to do so. There will be a variety of awards given out for different categories, such as best costume, belly flop, and youngest plunger.