EUGENE, Ore. - Hundreds of people cheered as 303 polar plunge participants raced without hesitation into the cold Willamette River in support of Special Olympics Oregon athletes.
Participants donated a minimum of $50 to jump into the river at Maurie Jacobs City Park Saturday, Feb. 22.
The event, now in its fifth year, raised over $30,000.
"We're still trying to make it as big and as awesome as possible," said Brittany Quick-Warner, the event coordinator for the past two years.
"It's an organization that you can see brings so much joy, not just to the athletes, but to the families," Quick-Warner said. "It's something they can call their own and compete in, and it just makes them feel good."
The Oregon Duck attended the event along with the Oregon cheerleading team who took the plunge during the tenth wave.
"It's not as scary as you think it's going to be," Quick-Warner said. "After you get out you're kind of numb, so you don't feel it."
Jim Casby, a University of Oregon employee who works in the food service department, said he was there to support the plungers but not to plunge.
"No, no, I wouldn't," Casby said. "I'm pretty smart."
Penny Wells, who has plunged for the past seven years, attended the event with her team "The Lightning Bolts." Her son and team member, Dan Wells, participated in the plunge, representing the event as a Special Olympian skier and power lifter.
"It's competition, but it's all for one cause," Penny Wells said. "It's very cold, but exhilarating."