Taking the plunge for the Special Olympics

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Coventry - posted Tue., Dec. 10, 2013
A group of freshmen from Coventry High School heads into Coventry Lake during a Penguin Plunge sponsored by Connecticut Special Olympics on Dec. 7. They are (l-r) Harlee, Faith, Fernanda and Nichole. Photos by Melanie Savage.
A group of freshmen from Coventry High School heads into Coventry Lake during a Penguin Plunge sponsored by Connecticut Special Olympics on Dec. 7. They are (l-r) Harlee, Faith, Fernanda and Nichole. Photos by Melanie Savage.

State Rep. Tim Ackert (R-8) stood with newly-elected Coventry Town Council member (and local veteran) Micah Welintukonis inside the Coventry Senior Center on Dec. 7. The two were preparing for this year’s Penguin Plunge, to benefit Special Olympics Connecticut. “This will be the last year,” said Ackert. “Five years is enough.”

“You say that now…” joked Welintukonis.

“We were down here this morning and the sun was shining; it was warm,” said Ackert. “You think, this is going to be easy.” But between the early-morning hours and the noon start time, the weather had changed, and plungers faced cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-30s, with a wind chill making it feel about 10 degrees colder. “It’s going to feel really cold coming out of that water,” said Ackert.

Nearby, Coventry High School freshmen Fernanda, Nichole, Faith and Harlee were getting changed in preparation for their first plunge. “We always heard about it, and we wanted to try something new,” said Fernanda.

The Coventry Penguin Plunge was started as a joint venture between the Coventry Police Department and the Eastern Connecticut State University Police Department. The Coventry plunge kicked off the season for Special Olympics Connecticut, with eight events planned throughout the state.

Senior Director of Special Events for Special Olympics Connecticut Lisa Carlone said that the Coventry event is the newest plunge in the state. Altogether, the events represent “our largest grassroots fund raiser,” said Carlone, citing an expected $550,000 in revenue state-wide. “We’re looking for a really good year this year,” said Carlone.

The Coventry event included contingents from many different groups, including the Coventry Volunteer Fire Department, Dimitri’s and Lakeview restaurants, and the Eastern Best Buddies program. For more information about Special Olympics Connecticut, go to www.soct.org.


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