Cold water, warm hearts

Plungers get wet for Special Olympics

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

Williston Police Chief Jim Dimmick, dressed in a white t-shirt, shorts and his police cap and blowing on a whistle clamped between his teeth, dashed into the frigid water of Lake Champlain on Saturday.

No, it was not some type of training exercise, or a wacky chase after a criminal. When Dimmick immersed himself in the Burlington waterfront near the Coast Guard Station, he did so to benefit Special Olympics Vermont at the 13th annual Penguin Plunge.

“It was cold. It was very cold. Sort of take your breath away cold,” Dimmick said a couple of days after the event, after he’d had a chance to warm up. “But it was a great event. We had great turnout, the participant level was much higher than last year.”

More than 1,040 plungers on 58 teams took part in the chilly fundraiser, according to Robyn Comstock, fundraising events manager for Special Olympics Vermont.
Dimmick, who also serves as chairman of the Board of Directors for Special Olympics Vermont, participated with a team of police chiefs and sheriffs, as well as Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan and Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell.

“Law enforcement has always enjoyed a special relationship with the athletes that get involved with Special Olympics,” Dimmick said.

The Williston Police Chief said his team raised more than $4,000 for Special Olympics.

Figures for the entire Plunge had yet to be released by press deadline, and Comstock would not offer an estimate.

But she did say the Plunge is the biggest fundraiser for Special Olympics Vermont, with money helping children and adults with intellectual disabilities to play sports.
The Special Olympics Winter Games are coming up, scheduled to take place from March 14 to 16 at Suicide Six in Woodstock. Games will include alpine skiing, snowshoeing and snowboarding, Comstock said.

With sunny skies and little wind at the Plunge, Comstock said the event “was fantastic. There were no problems at all. It was really smooth.”