As Chicago thaws out from another polar vortex, residents can begin to think about taking the plunge into what will surely be the frigid waters of Lake Michigan.

The 19th annual Chicago Polar Plunge, which supports Special Olympics Chicago (SOC), will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday, March 3, at North Avenue Beach. Participants can dive, or just wade, into the water.

Over 7,500 athletes participate in SOC’s 22 year-round sports activities, and the non-profit organization hopes to raise $2 million through the plunge; as of press time, about $300,000 had come in.

SOC, which held its first games in 1968 at Soldier Field, has many local connections, as 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea is the president, a volunteer position. As he has done in recent years, O’Shea is challenging local high schools to form teams and join him at the plunge.

The Mt. Greenwood Special Recreation Association has several participants who have used their success in SOC events to go on to even further success in national and worldwide Special Olympics events.

Horse Thief Hollow Brewing Co., in Beverly, is making a beer—fittingly called the Polar Plunge—to support one local team taking the plunge: Marty and Reese’s Warriors, named after two children who were born last year with Down syndrome.

The Chicago Sports Club is hosting “Sunday Showdown,” a live amateur boxing event, on Feb. 17, at Operating Engineers Local 399 union hall, 2260 S. Grove St., and ticket sales will benefit Marty and Reese’s Warriors. Fighters from Celtic Boxing Club and McGarry’s Boxing Club, two local organizations, will compete in the USA Boxing-sanctioned event. Tickets are available at

SOC served as the grand marshal of last year’s South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade, an honor aimed at raising awareness for its cause while celebrating Special Olympics’ 50th anniversary. What better way to show the power of being honored than by continuing local support for the Polar Plunge?

The frigid temperatures might make people reluctant to dive into Lake Michigan, but there are other ways to donate before March 3.

For more information about Special Olympics Chicago or the Polar Plunge, visit the website at