Swimmers take plunge to benefit Special Olympics RI

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — Hundreds of people got 2016 off to a frigid start by plunging into the Atlantic Ocean for a good cause.

The 40th Annual Penguin Plunge was held in Narragansett to benefit Special Olympics Rhode Island.

It was a race to the water, and for some a race right back out, while others stayed in a soaked up the sun.

“It was awesome!” exclaimed Tim Delaney of Pawtucket. “The water was a little bit warmer than the air, a lot warmer than I thought it was going to be! Not bad at all.”

“The water temperature is 44 degrees, the temperature out here is 44. There’s no wind. This is like a cakewalk!” added Wayne Meunier, who’s participated for the past 33 years.

Many first-timers also took part in the plunge.

“It was cold, but it was exhilarating,” said Jenney Cassidy of Charlestown. “A great way to start a new year!”

This year’s event raised about $90,000 for Special Olympics.

“The fact that all these people just want to jump in the water and donate money to such a good organization, it means so much,” said Special Olympics athlete Meagan Miller. “Coming from me and the rest of the athletes, we appreciate the fact that it’s cold outside and they’re willing and ready to go. It’s amazing.”

There are about 3,000 Special Olympics athletes in Rhode Island who participate in 25 sports year-round.

Other plunges were held across Southern New England on New Year’s Day. In Warwick, dozens of hearty souls ran into the chilly waters of Buttonwoods Cove to benefit the Little Rhodie Bully Breed Club, which helps find homes for homeless dogs in the state.

The Lion’s Club held its annual Pier Plunge at noon in Narragansett to support local charities.

Others took part in the WARM Center’s 10th Annual Penguin Plunge in Westerly. All proceeds went to the nonprofit, which stands for Westerly Area Rest Meals and serves the homeless and needy.

Below: Video from the Penguin Plunge in Westerly.

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