PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - Normally, the Special Olympics Polar Plunge would bring thousands to Virginia Beach, braving the elements in support of a good cause. Thanks to coronavirus, the event can’t be held at the oceanfront this year, but many are doing their own versions of the plunge, including the Petersburg Bureau of Police.
Thursday found Petersburg officers and their families on the pool deck at Acqua Apartments in Petersburg, ready to dive in to support the Special Olympics. The group usually makes the trip to Virginia Beach, but was happy to adjust to make things work in 2021.
“COVID didn’t stop us. We got creative,” said Petersburg Police Chief Travis Christian. “[Acqua Apartments] decided to open their house up to us and give us an opportunity to come out and support the cause.”
“It’s one team, one fight,” added Corporal of Community Policing Jacqueline Hernandez. “I fully believe that and we’re all in for the same cause.”
Thursday’s weather was not as bad as it could’ve been for a February afternoon in Virginia. Clear skies and temperatures in the low 50s served as a backdrop for the group that took to the pool. Plungers gathered, many in costumes to take part in a contest, while Chief Christian took part in full uniform. Participants were split into two groups to maximize the ability to social distance. They took to the pool ten minutes apart with a countdown and cheers from fellow plungers, family and sponsors.
The water definitely felt like winter, but all were happy to take part.
“I had a blast,” smiled Hernandez after her plunge. “I’m so grateful just to be here and have a great group of people in my department that’s always so supportive, and that’s what you need.”
Last year the department raised $2,000 to benefit Special Olympics Virginia and its goal was to eclipse that in 2021. Entering Thursday, nearly $4,000 had been raised by the group.
“It just touches my heart that it doesn’t stop you from doing great things, just because we have restrictions,” Hernandez said. “We can still do things to make a difference.”
“We all go about our daily lives sometimes and we tend to forget those that need love,” Christian noted. “It’s a way for us to show love and we hope that people will get behind us and continue to support a special cause such as Special Olympics.”
To learn more about how you can take part in your own Polar Plunge this week, click here.
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