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Ogle County team takes the plunge again for Special Olympics

Pictured here is the Ogle County Polar Plunge team and its supporters: In the front row, left to right, are: Stephanie White, Chana Educaction Center Social; Shannon Cremeens, Oregon High School;  Jackson Beckman; Brigette Beckman, Ogle County Probation; Carla Hill, Ogle County Sherriff's Department; and Linda Mendoza, Sterling School District. Back row: Lynn Kalnins, Chana Educaction Center; Joe Ghibellini, Sterling School District; Kenny Kalnins; Tony Welle, Ogle County Sheriff's Department; and Matt Kalnins, Oregon Police Department. Photo supplied
Pictured here is the Ogle County Polar Plunge team and its supporters: In the front row, left to right, are: Stephanie White, Chana Educaction Center Social; Shannon Cremeens, Oregon High School; Jackson Beckman; Brigette Beckman, Ogle County Probation; Carla Hill, Ogle County Sherriff's Department; and Linda Mendoza, Sterling School District. Back row: Lynn Kalnins, Chana Educaction Center; Joe Ghibellini, Sterling School District; Kenny Kalnins; Tony Welle, Ogle County Sheriff's Department; and Matt Kalnins, Oregon Police Department. Photo supplied

Close to 500 brave participants plunged into the 20 degree waters of Olson Lake in Loves Park on March 7 to raise awareness and funds for Special Olympics of Illinois.

Joining for the fifth year in a row, Team Ogle County First Responders raised over $4,000 towards the overall event’s total of $112,000.

Team Ogle County First Responders consist of members of Ogle County Sheriff’s Department and Probation, Oregon Police Department, Chana Education Center, and Sterling School District.

Team member Joe Ghibellini, a special education teacher for Sterling School District, was one of the event’s top fundraisers overall.

The Polar Plunge is a yearly event held by the Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit Special Olympics of Illinois.

In Illinois alone, there are over 23,000 adult-age athletes and 17,000 youth athletes who participate in Special Olympics events.

There are 18 sporting activities that athletes may participate in, ranging from more traditional sports such as basketball and bowling, to more unique opportunities such as powerlifting and equestrian.