LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 19, 2019) — Since 1981, law enforcement agencies throughout the world have helped raise awareness and funding for the nonprofit organization Special Olympics. On Feb. 9, three Kentucky law enforcement agencies, including the University of Kentucky Police Department, participated in the annual Lexington Polar Plunge fundraiser and collectively raised $6,510 for year-round sports training and athletic competitions for 8,900 athletes in Kentucky with intellectual disabilities.
The Polar Plunge is just one of multiple fundraisers in which UKPD participates to benefit Special Olympics.
“The mission of Special Olympics closely aligns itself with the mission of law enforcement agencies,” UKPD Chief Joe Monroe said. “Whether it’s jumping into a pool of icy water, pulling an 18-wheeler or standing on top of a rooftop, we are proud to work toward fostering inclusivity for all members of our community.”
UKPD’s therapy dog, Oliver, joined the group of 11 UKPD employees that raised $2,472 thanks to friends, family and support from the community. A total of nine University of Kentucky Police officers took turns jumping into the water, from majors to police recruits.
The top law enforcement fundraising group this year was the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, which raised $3,258, followed by the Richmond Police Department, which raised nearly $800 for Special Olympics Kentucky.
“As an uncle of a nephew with special needs, it was exciting to participate in a great cause like the Polar Plunge,” UKPD police recruit Miguel Romero said. “Voluntarily jumping in an icy pool of water in the middle of February was both exciting and terrifying. Despite the cold, I'm looking forward to participating again next year.”
One Special Olympics athlete who has personally benefited from fundraisers like the Polar Plunge is Tamara Ralph from Georgetown, Kentucky. Eleven years ago, Tamara had never participated in organized sports. Through Special Olympics, she has had different opportunities to further develop her physical fitness, increase her confidence and develop strong friendships with other Special Olympics athletes and the community. Today, Tamara has competed in six different sports including softball, basketball, bowling, golf, skiing and track and field.
“Before Special Olympics I was always alone and by myself. I never had anybody to talk to. Special Olympics helped me overcome my fear and has taught me that I can play with people that are like me,” she said.
UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uk4ky #seeblue