What is the Polar Plunge?

The Polar Plunge, presented by GEICO and the Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run, is a unique opportunity for individuals, organizations and businesses to support Special Olympics athletes by jumping into Illinois’ icy waters.  During the months of February and March, there are 25 opportunities across the state to #BeBoldGetCold with Special Olympics Illinois!

How old do you have to be to Plunge?

There is no age requirement to participate in the Polar Plunge. Young children are welcome to participate, but that decision is left to the sole discretion of the child’s parent or guardian.  For individuals under the age of 18, a parent or guardian must sign the event waiver. Waivers will be available as part of the check-in process the day of the event.

What is the minimum amount that I need to raise to participate in the event?

All Plungers must raise a minimum of $100.

What incentives are available to participants who raise more than the minimum $100?

• Incentives are available for Plungers who reach the $250, $500 or $1,000 levels. Click here to view incentive options.

How deep is the water?

Each Plunge location is different but we try to restrict the Plunge area to waist deep.  If you want to go all the way under water, it is up to you – just bend your knees!  However, we cannot guarantee the depth, so if concerned, feel free to ask the Dive Team in the water before your plunge.

Where can I change before and after the Plunge?

Each Plunge is different but separate changing areas are provided for men and women.  Volunteers will be at the entrance to monitor the area, but please note that neither the event committee nor Special Olympics Illinois are responsible for personal belongings left inside the changing area that are lost or stolen during the course of the event.  Leave items at your own risk.

Are the Plunge incentives or sweatshirts available for purchase?

We do not sell any of our Plunge incentives because we feel it is a privilege for those who participate and have earned the various incentive levels. We do offer Plunge Souvenirs onsite for anyone to purchase.

What is your refund policy?

Donations made to the Polar Plunge are charitable contributions and non-refundable.

What is your event cancellation policy?

We reserve the right to delay, shorten or in rare circumstances, cancel an event due to inclement weather. Safety of participants, spectators and volunteers is always our first priority.  Staff will consult the local weather and law enforcement to ensure conditions are safe for the event. If an event were to be cancelled, we would still offer an incentive pick-up option to participants or allow participants to transfer to a different event.  We will make all possible attempts – by email, website and social media – to inform participants of any changes or updates.

How long does check-in take?

We have streamlined our check in process, but can never predict when crowds will be heaviest. If available, we recommend attending a pre-registration event to make the entire process easier for you.  If not, we encourage you to arrive early to check-in the day of the event and enjoy the Plunge atmosphere.

Am I guaranteed to receive my sweatshirt when I check-in?

We do our best to order enough sweatshirts to cover all the Plungers who participate but cannot guarantee fulfillment the day of the plunge.  All sweatshirts are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you do not receive your sweatshirt the day of the Plunge, one will be mailed to you in early April.

What are some tips to make check-in go faster?

  1. Register online
  2. If one is available, attend a Pre-Plunge Registration Event
  3. Bring all of your offline donations with you that day and a print out of your online fundraising page total.

I have a donor who wants to write a check. Who should they make it payable to?

All checks should be made payable to Special Olympics Illinois. Donations of $100 with complete donor information will receive a tax letter from Special Olympics Illinois. For donations under $100, please issue the donor one of these donor receipts.

I have a group of people that want to Plunge together. Can we form a team?

Yes! Forming a team is a great way to motivate one another to raise more money for Special Olympics Illinois. When registering, select the “Create a Team” option.

Will my Plunge team be able to jump in together?

We understand the importance of plunging together but your safety is our first priority. Depending on the size of your team, your group will be able to plunge together or may need to be split into smaller groups and jump in succession.