COLUMBIA — When Scott Drochelman and Cassie Shields participated together for the second time in the Polar Bear Plunge, a yearly fundraising event for Special Olympics Missouri, they took the plunge in more ways than one. A week before the event, which coincidentally fell on Valentine's Day this year, the couple got engaged. Unfortunately for the couple, their recent engagement didn't make the waters any warmer.
"It was cold," Shields said. "It was really, really cold."
Drochelman and Shields were just two of 285 participants to brave the frigid 33-degree waters of Stephens Lake on Saturday, all in the name of raising money for Special Olympics Missouri.
More than $32,000 was raised, not counting the concession and souvenir sales from the event itself. Last year's plunge raised a final total of just over $32,000. Topping last year's total before every dollar had been counted thrilled Columbia Police Captain Zim Schwartz, who is an active Special Olympics Missouri supporter.
"It's all for the athletes," Schwartz said. "It's great to see such excellent community support."
Schwartz does anything she can to donate to Special Olympics Missouri and support its athletes.
"The athletes are just really cool people." Schwartz said.
All proceeds from Columbia's plunge stay in central Missouri and are used to sponsor athletes, pay for uniforms, and organize events throughout the year.
"We try to make the costs for our athletes as close to zero as possible," said Joe Buechter, associate area director for Special Olympics Missouri.
This year marked the fourteenth year for the plunge. Columbia's plunge, now in its second year, is just one of 14 across the state.