Polar Plunge
The Polar Plunge returns to Corvallis on Feb. 19. A Philomath High School team has formed and is raising money for the Unified basketball program. (Photo by Getty Images)

The longstanding tradition of plunging into the frigid waters of the Willamette River each winter to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics Oregon athletes is coming up on Feb. 19 at Crystal Lake Sports Park in Corvallis. Teams are forming, making decisions on wild costumes and swimming attire, and are seeking donations to go toward the cause.

The Philomath High School team is accepting donations for its participation in the fundraising event. Sophie Robinson of the high school’s Associated Student Body organization, said community members can donate to help pay for students that can’t provide the designated $50 participation amount, or can contribute through a straight donation to the cause.

“We just learned that 100% of our donations go directly to our Unified basketball team,” Robinson said. “This is a great change from the past where only half came back to our team. So if anyone has ever wanted to donate, this is the year.”

Donations in the form of cash or check (payable to Philomath High School) can be dropped off in the high school office.

The event takes place in seven locations throughout the state on Feb. 19 — Corvallis, Portland, Salem, Eugene, Bend, Medford, and Warrenton.

Last year, the event was limited to “virtual plunging” to support athletes. This year’s relaunch features the addition of two new cities and expanded 5K and 10K fun runs across the state, the organization pointed out in a press release.

Dozens of local teams made up of students, law enforcement, gyms, corporate partners and general thrill seekers will sprint into the chilly river waters to show support to their local athletes. The Polar Plunge has been taking place in Corvallis since 2010.

Participants will raise money in support of those living with intellectual disabilities — the largest disability population in the state, according to Special Olympics Oregon. Each person participating in the Polar Plunge or Polar Fun Run commits to fundraising on behalf of Special Olympics Oregon with a statewide goal of raising $590,000.Anyone wishing to take part in the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Oregon can register and get the full details at www.PlungeOregon.org.