Courtesy of Special Olympics Southern California

Courtesy of Special Olympics Southern California

Special Olympics of Santa Barbara will host the second annual Polar Plunge fundraiser at Leadbetter Beach on Sunday.

With the catch phrase “Freezin’ for a Reason,” the nonprofit encourages participants to come swim in the Pacific Ocean to help fund the organization. Last year, the event raised more than $30,000 for the cause. Everyone is invited to take the plunge in costume or simply make a donation. A minimum donation of $50 is asked of participants taking the plunge, with a free T-shirt and breakfast courtesy of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department included.

Gina Carbajal, regional director for the Special Olympics of SB, said the fundraiser provided crucial funding for the organization.

“The polar plunge, and this is our second annual one here in Santa Barbara, is really a way for individuals and groups to actually come together and raise money for Special Olympics,” Carbajal said. “All the money that we raise stays here in Santa Barbara.”

According to Carbajal, the event is very flexible and casual.

“Individuals get the time to just go and plunge in the water here at Leadbetter Beach, either individually or as groups,” Carbajal said. “You just come out in your shorts, bathing suit — some people come out in costumes.”

Carbajal said there are a different shirts for those who swim and for those who are “too chicken.”

“The pledgers get a shirt. It’s a full-on shirt that actually has the Polar Plunge and Special Olympics logo on it,” Carbajal said. “It says ‘I took the plunge’ and individuals that don’t want to plunge — are too chicken to plunge — get a shirt that says ‘I was too chicken to plunge.’”

Carbajal said people should donate because the money raised will stay local, going directly to the Special Olympics chapter for Santa Barbara youth.

“The moneys that are raised are used for individuals with intellectual disabilities, so individuals that have, for example, Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and other types of intellectual disabilities,” Carbajal said.

Another sponsor of the event is the Hutton Parker Foundation, which funds nonprofit organizations in Santa Barbara County. Chief Operating Officer Pamela Lewis said the foundation has been a long-time supporter of Special Olympics.

“Benefiting Special Olympics is a very unique and fulfilling event that gives a lot of visibility to the organization and that just helps them to further promote themselves and their programs,” Lewis said. “It’s for a great cause.”