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Penguin Plunge Raises Over $252,000 for Special Olympics Vermont

The 26th Annual Special Olympics Vermont Penguin Plunge was reimagined into a 7-week long “Penguin Plunge Season” to raise funds to support programs that enrich the lives of a community of over 5,000 Vermonters. The season culminated in a Penguin Plunge Celebration on March 27th, which featured a Covid-compliant limited in-person plunge and live streamed event. The Penguin Plunge is the largest fundraising event for Special Olympics Vermont (SOVT), and this year, in the midst of a global pandemic, over $252,000 was raised by 500 participants to support SOVT initiatives and programming. For the third year in a row, the Union Mutual Popsicles were the top fundraising team, raising over $65,000.

“I am so proud of my team and the Special Olympics community, who have demonstrated the kind of grit our movement is all about,” said SOVT President and CEO, Missy Siner Shea. “We focused on what is possible, rather than let ourselves be stymied by limitations. It’s the same spirit Eunice Kennedy Shriver brought when she founded Special Olympics over 50 years ago. Special Olympics Vermont showed real leadership by safely, successfully executing a beloved annual in-person event. Best of all, our sponsors and committed Plungers raised over a quarter of a million dollars to ensure health, fitness and competitive sport programming for Vermonters with intellectual disabilities. We have shown that not even a global pandemic will stop our mission to build a more inclusive future, not just for our athletes, but for all Vermonters.”

During the Penguin Plunge Season, fundraisers were encouraged to show their support for SOVT by plunging remotely and recording or taking photos of their creative alternatives to the usual in-person plunge into Lake Champlain. All remote plunge submissions were aired during the live-stream of the limited-capacity Celebration event. The COVID-compliant, in-person plunge involved 40 participants made up of top fundraisers, long time plungers, and a few lucky random drawing winners. The live-stream was produced by The Media Factory, and is available to view on SOVT’s YouTube Channel.

All funds raised through the Penguin Plunge support SOVT’s athletic training and competition opportunities for both community and school-based programs, free health screenings, and leadership opportunities for children and adults with intellectual disabilities in Vermont. As SOVT athlete board member and global leader, Daeton Orton says, “Special Olympics has helped me socially, mentally, and physically. It’s helped me in a lot of ways, giving me opportunities that I never thought I could have. It’s also given me the opportunity to celebrate who I am and my ability and it’s given me confidence in that.”

The Penguin Plunge would not have been possible without the support of many sponsors and partners, presenting sponsor Xfinity, Community Bank N.A., Northfield Savings Bank, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, The Media Factory, 95 Triple X, WVMT, 101.3 The Game, WCAX, The Alchemist, Burlington Telecom, Burton, Carris Reels, Darn Tough, Essex Junction Recreation & Parks, Got That Rentals, Hilton Burlington, Hotel Vermont, Lake Champlain Chocolates, Mack Molding, Mount Mansfield Maple Products, Myers, NBT Bank, Pete’s RV, Select Design, Skida Headwear & Accessories, Starbucks, Stonyfield Organic, The Windjammer Group, Top Hat Entertainment and Twincraft Skincare. Special Olympics Vermont is also grateful for the support of the Burlington Parks & Recreation Department, the Burlington Fire Department and many additional volunteers who provide the time and energy to make this event possible every year.

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