Taking the plunge for Special Olympics | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Taking the plunge for Special Olympics

Teri Vance / The Nevada Appeal

The first time Ted Rupert dove into the frigid water of Lake Tahoe in the middle of winter, he did it because it was “something crazy.”

After that first dive during the Polar Bear Plunge in 2005, he met the people benefitting from the event ” Special Olympians. Since then, he has volunteered at Special Olympic games as well.

“Once you see how wonderful they are and how seriously they take it, you’re hooked,” he said. “It’s contagious.”

Now, the general manager of Rupert’s Auto Body takes the plunge because it’s a cause close to his heart. Even if it nearly makes his heart stop.

“Once you jump in, you lose all control,” he said. “You can’t breathe. You can’t talk. It’s a shock to the system.”

That might not be good news for Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Chuck Allen, who has committed to the plunge this year for the first time. He will be a member of the No Heat Plungers team. Parole and Probations will have its own team, the Jail Birds.

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“There’s a little nervousness,” Allen said.

Allen, who is the Law Enforcement Torch Run director for the Nevada Special Olympics, said Special Olympics is the charity of choice by law enforcement organizations.

They also host other fundraisers for the organization, including Tip a Cop and Cops and Burgers, and have raised about $250,000 this year.

Although the rules allow that even dipping a toe into the water constitutes a “plunge,” Allen is afraid he’ll have to submerge more than that.

“I think there will be much more peer pressure to dunk my entire body,” he said.

Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and competition to those with developmental disabilities. Programs are free to all eligible athletes ages 8 and older.

The sixth annual Polar Bear Plunge will be 10 a.m. March 21 at the Zephyr Cove Marina. The event typically raises about $8,000 to $10,000. Last year, Rupert’s team raised about $5,000.

As for advice for Allen, Rupert doesn’t have much.

“There’s no way to train for it. No way to get ready for it,” Rupert said. “You’re standing there on the edge and wondering why in the world you’re there, but by then it’s too late.”