As the front of the line rapidly approached, Catherine Nidds nearly backed out of the Polar Plunge.
“At first I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this,’ and then I actually almost stepped out of line when I was walking up,” Nidds, LSEHD ’25, said. “But then after you get out and all your friends are soaking wet and also freezing, it’s just so fun.”
Children, police officers, and students came together at Margot Connell Recreation Center for Boston College’s first annual Polar Plunge on Saturday morning. The BC Police Department hosted the event along with Special Olympics BC and the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
“Boston College Police wanted to bring a Polar Plunge to campus in conjunction with the Special Olympics club that’s on campus,” said Stephanie Esposito, assistant vice president of development for fundraising and partner engagement at Special Olympics Massachusetts. “And they brought the idea to us and we jumped at it.”
President and CEO of Special Olympics Massachusetts Mary Beth McMahon said Saturday’s event raised over $23,000. She added that the organization’s plunge program has raised over $870,000 in total this year—breaking its record for the third year in a row even with the residual effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We could actually not do that without every single person, from every plunge here, from the smaller fundraisers to the bigger fundraisers,” McMahon said while addressing the crowd. “This is money we use every day in every community. So thank you all very much.”
According to Esposito, Special Olympics Massachusetts is always looking for ways to bring the Polar Plunge to various communities.
“We have a great partnership with Boston College Police but also law enforcement across the state who host Polar Plunge events and other fundraisers for us throughout the year,” Esposito said. “So this was kind of a no-brainer when they pitched the idea to bring it to campus.”
After this year’s large turnout, Esposito said she expects the word-of-mouth will result in an even higher attendance at next year’s Polar Plunge.
“The turnout’s incredible,” Esposito said. “I mean, you have a packed gym right now, and I think, you know, people are gonna see photos and videos from today. People are gonna go back to their dorms and their clubs and their classes and share their plunge story.”
McMahon then presented the top fundraising teams with awards for their donations following her speech, with the BC women’s club water polo team raising over $700 and BCPD raising over $5,145.
After McMahon presented the awards, the event moved outside of the Connell Recreation Center, where each participant was called up one by one to climb in and out of a temporary above-ground pool of cold water.
“Oh, it’s the look of shock on everyone’s face as they come out of the water—I think this is pretty entertaining,” Esposito said. “And you know, I think that, if I can be earnest, you know, that people come together around the idea that everyone should belong to a community and that like, the world should be a little bit more inclusive for all of us.”