Harwich Polar Plunge Raises $51K For Special Olympics

by William F. Galvin

HARWICH – The annual Polar Plunge put on by the Harwich Police Department at Red River Beach Saturday attracted a crowd and a healthy contribution to the Special Olympics of Massachusetts.

Deputy Police Chief Kevin Considine, organizer of the annual event, said $51,000 was raised this year. That’s up from the $45,000 raised a year ago. The plunge drew 175 participants and a gathering of observers estimated to be in the 250 to 300 range.

“It really exceeded our expectations and it keeps growing every year,” Considine said.

The weather was cooperative, with temperatures in the 46-degree range and a water temperature of about 42 degrees. Conditions did little to dissuade participants from taking a dip.

Since 1981, police

departments on the Cape have been tied to fundraising for Special Olympics of Massachusetts through the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which takes place in the late spring with officers running from Provincetown to Bourne.

But the Polar Plunge is relatively new. Saturday’s event held at Red River Beach was the fourth sponsored by the police department under the guidance of Considine, who serves as the Barnstable County representative to the Special Olympics. Special Olympics of Massachusetts will be conducting as many as 15 to 20 polar plunges across the state this year in an effort to raise $1 million for its annual operating budget.

The event on Saturday went a long way in helping to reach that goal, Considine said. The major contributor to the event over the past couple of years are the recruits from the Plymouth Police Academy, officers in training who participate as a group. The 75th recruitment class contributed $18,464 this year.

Several police departments on the Cape raised another $7,171. The Harwich department set a goal of $5,000 and exceeded that number by $600. Other police departments participating in the plunge fundraising included Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, and Sandwich.

“We’re here to support Special Olympics athletes, but it’s become a community event,” said Considine.

One hundred and fifty participants pre-registering for the plunge, and Considine said another 25 people registered that morning. The number of observers continues to grow each year, with an estimated 250 and 300 people watching Saturday as teams of plungers hit the water. There were 14 teams as well as individual participants, he said.

“It’s amazing to get so many people coming for the day to support the Special Olympic and the event,” said Considine.

There are a few sponsor groups that participate in the event. Mid-Cape Sports group was recognized for raising $2,200, and there were a number of “Just For Fun” teams such as Sean and the Penguins, which raised $1,110. Considine also recognized Harwich resident Steve Mosca, who as an individual raised $5,500.

Several area businesses have also stepped up to help out, said Considine. M.A. Frazier Enterprises of Wellfleet donated the restroom facilities and recycling bins for the event. Kream ‘n Kone in Dennis provided clam chowder and the Cape Cop Shop in Harwich provided coffee. Considine said he would like to see more corporate and business

involvement in the annual event.

“It will be the same time next year, and I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “It has turned into more than I expected. It’s such a great event for these athletes.”