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Columbia Missourian

MULTIMEDIA: Special Olympic athletes join in Polar Plunge

By Alyssa Goodman, Jason Redmond, Katie Alaimo
February 17, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST
Special Olympics Athlete Sarah Byland stands with her group of plungers immediately before the start of the 2013 Columbia Polar Plunge fundraiser at Stephens Lake Park on Saturday.

COLUMBIA — Hundreds of people took the Polar Plunge on Saturday afternoon at Stephens Lake Park, but for three of the first plungers, the event meant more.

Plungers Kendall Scheidt, Sarah Byland and Larry Stephens are Special Olympic athletes who had the honor of plunging with the first group. Participants paid a $75 minimum fee to enter, and many raised more, to benefit Special Olympics.

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Polar Plunge 3 from Columbia Missourian on Vimeo.

The money helps allow Special Olympics athletes and others to compete in sports such as swimming, basketball, bocce and bowling throughout the year.

“It does amazing things for them,” said Jeanie Byland, Sarah Byland’s mother and member of the board of directors for Special Olympics, said. She sees first hand the benefits of the event and the importance of Special Olympics.

“It’s so much more than just the sports. Sports are great because it teaches them to be healthy, and keeps them active. But it is so much more than that. It teaches them so many more life skills than just the sports aspect.”

Supervising editor is Brian Kratzer.