Baby, it’s cold outside – Polar Plunge in Fishkill (video)

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FISHKILL – The Special Olympics held their 23rd annual Polar Plunge on Saturday at the Sharpe Reservation in Fishkill.  More than 180 participants jumped into the lake to raise money just hours after volunteers used chainsaws to remove nearly a foot of ice from the water’s surface.

Teresa Gilli, director of Development for the Special Olympics New York, Hudson Valley Region said that the participants raised more than $116,000 before taking the plunge to celebrate their fundraising accomplishments.  At least 258 Special Olympic athletes will be fully supported because of the efforts of our supporters, noted Gilli.  While holding the event during a pandemic posed many obstacles, the event went off successfully.  “We are so happy to have so many of our participants and their donors stick with us despite the challenges of the pandemic.”
 
Linda Fakhoury led a group of friends and relatives to be a part of Team Fakhoury for Saturday.  Joined by her aunt Sara Qaqish, cousin Mikaela Qaqish, and friend Aimee Tuttle with support from Laila Fakhoury, the team raised $3,745 for Special Olympics.  The team leader said, “This event is extra special, and seeing everyone come together, from all walks of life, during these trying times, restores our faith in humanity and kindness.”  Fakhoury has been participating for more than a decade and usually does so without drawing much attention to her and her teammates.  “The real heroes are the athletes of the Special Olympics and I am so glad we can do our part in showing them we stand by their side, always.”
 
Colin Bell is another jumper with more than a decade of taking plunges.  With below-freezing temps on Saturday, Bell described the experience, saying “It was like getting kicked in the face.” His friend and event organizer Chris Hamel added “Jumping in, jumping out, get in the car and going home all the name of the Special Olympics, with every dollar going toward our Special Olympic athletes here in the Hudson Valley.”
 
The Polar Plunge was held in Dutchess County just days after the fifth anniversary of the Special Olympics Winter Games opening ceremony that was held in Poughkeepsie.
Team Fakhoury took to the frigid waters to support the athletes of the Special Olympics: