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Scores of people take polar plunge at Oceanfront to benefit Special Olympics

The Saturday event starts with a 4-mile run and ends with a chilly dip into waters at the Oceanfront.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Thousands dived into the Atlantic ocean for the 28th annual polar plunge.

The two-day event benefits Special Olympics Virginia.

"This is the biggest fundraising single-day thing we do all year in Special Olympics Virginia," Special Olympics Virginia president Rick Jeffrey said. "Our goal is $1.3 million. We’re not far from that, we hope to exceed that.” 

For some, taking a dip in the chilly Atlantic ocean is an invigorating way to kick start the weekend.

“I’ve been training," participant John Paul Amonte said. "I usually get in the ocean once a week during the wintertime." 

The day started with four-mile and one mile runs along the Oceanfront before everyone jumps in the water to cool off.

 “A little nervous. It’ll be cold but it will be worth it,” David Wood said.

Participants say knowing it’s all for a good cause makes the cool water a little easier to bear, and overcoming the temperature is all in your head.

“It gets your heart going," Rhoda Heller-Holy said. "Keeps you healthy, keeps your spirit and mind in a good place.”

Amonte added: "The mind absolutely can control the body and it’s for your health.”

Credit: Special Olympics Virginia

The polar plunge happened at 2 p.m. but participants chose to take an earlier swim at noon.

Those who do it twice, get a special "double dip" medal for braving the water.

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