50 take the polar plunge in Shreveport

By Tracy Clemons – bio|email

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA)- Saturday was one of the biggest fund raisers of the year for the Special Olympics- the Polar Plunge.

"It was good. I just went in there and did a cannonball and that was it," says Special Olympian John Charles Lee.

Lee, and about 50 more costumed people jumped into Cross Lake.

"This is one of the exciting activities and events that our law enforcement officers conduct each year to help raise money for Special Olympics," says Special Olympics Louisiana President and CEO Pat Carpenter-Bourgeois.

DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Deputy Kyle Martin's costume was one of the most extreme.

"The costume comes equipped with this nice towel, the tutu, the wig, jewelry, all the accessories," he says.

It was part of a bet with special Olympian Amanda Starret.

"If she raised $250, he had to wear pink and pink jewelry. If she raised $500, the Pretty Cosmetics was coming out to do a makeover on him. $750, a wig and hair bows. And $1,000, she was going to make him a tutu," says Amanda's mother Renee.

She raised $1,600, so he got to do it all. Renee Starret says this kind of community support for Special Olympics is a blessing.

"These competitions are so important to our kids on so many levels. We promote healthy athletes, it gives them something to do, it's social interaction for them. It's just such a blessing in our lives."

Special Olympics Louisiana serves more than 13,000 people with intellectual disabilities. 2,000 are in northwest Louisiana. Fund raisers like this help reach the more than 120,000 who qualify, but don't participate.

"It helps us to be able to provide some of the events, competitions, and activities that the athletes participate in on a regular basis," Carpenter-Bourgeois says.

And it's probably the only thing that could get Kyle Martin to don the costume that he did.

"This is a horrible idea, but it's a great cause and pretty much we'll do just about anything it takes to raise money for this cause and these kids."

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