Lake Tahoe Polar Plunge raises $185K for Special Olympics |

Lake Tahoe Polar Plunge raises $185K for Special Olympics

Claire Cudahy
Special Olympics Nevada hosted its annual South Lake Tahoe Polar Plunge fundraiser at Zephyr Cove on Sunday, March 18. After raising a minimum of $125 each for the organization, participants ran into the icy waters. In total, the event raised approximately $185,000 for Special Olympics Nevada.
Claire Cudahy / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

On Sunday, hundreds of participants ran into the icy cold waters of Lake Tahoe to raise money for Special Olympics Northern California and Nevada.

Combined with other weekend fundraising efforts on the South Shore, approximately $185,000 was raised for the nonprofit, which serves 26,000 developmentally disabled athletes across Northern California and Nevada.

“[The Polar Plunge] continues to grow every year,” said Joyce Whitney-Silva, board chair for Special Olympics Northern California and Nevada and CFO of Greater Nevada Credit Union, a sponsor of the event. “I remember when I came on in 2004 and maybe 50 people participated and we held the post-plunge party at a small room at Chevy’s.”

This year, 400 people participated in the plunge or registered as a “chicken” to enjoy the day’s festivities, including the Post-Splash Bash at MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa, without the chilly dip. A fundraising minimum of $125 per person was required.

On Friday, Nevada Highway Patrol troopers and Department of Public Safety employees raised money for Special Olympics through the annual “Tip-A-Cop” event at The Hard Rock Café in Harveys Lake Tahoe. The volunteer waiters assisted the restaurant staff throughout the day for “tips” that went to Special Olympics.

Funds raised by the showing of “Hue, Man” at MontBleu on Friday also went to Special Olympics.

“This was by far the biggest dollar amount we’ve ever raised,” said Whitney-Silva. “It’s amazing the number of participants we get from all over Northern California and Nevada.”

The Polar Plunge weekend is Special Olympics Northern California and Nevada’s largest fundraiser of the year. It’s crucial in funding the organization, which allows children and adults with intellectual disabilities to participate in sports free of cost, said Whitney-Silva.

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