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Originally published: 2013-02-25 13:39:31
Last modified: 2013-02-25 13:39:32

Our View: Students, others put 'special' in Special Olympics

Each year, when asked to take the plunge for a special cause, dozens of Appalachian State University students dive right in -- into a pond that may or may not be crusted with February ice, but one always boasting February's freezing water temperatures.

ASU students and others have participated in an annual Polar Plunge into the university's Duck Pond for 15 years, and as a result have raised nearly $100,000 for Watauga County's Special Olympics athletes.

It's hard to best an annual commitment of that caliber. Indeed, one of the only commitments that could top it is the commitment from the athletes that this fundraiser supports.

The dedication of our state's Special Olympics athletes reaches the highest level of sport: North Carolina hosts one of the largest Special Olympics in the world. More than 38,000 registered athletes train to compete in 19 different sports through about 100 local programs. 

It takes strong support to make this happen, support from more than 20,000 volunteers statewide working in communities such as Boone; and support from myriad others who help fund training facilities, uniforms, equipment and transportation -- even when that funding source is a frigid duck pond on top of a mountain.

The spirit of the annual Polar Plunge is evident from the camaraderie and dedication among participants and from the crowd that cheers them on.

The result: a fine example of an event that gives back to the community. 

Just like Special Olympics North Carolina.