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Burlington And Plattsburgh Officials Jump In Cold Lake Champlain Waters To Help Special Olympics

Special Olympics NY

During this past summer’s Mayor’s Cup sailboat race in Plattsburgh, Burlington’s mayor lost a friendly bet against mayor of Plattsburgh. He settled it by jumping into the cold waters of Lake Champlain this past weekend.

Over the past four years, the Plattsburgh Polar Plunge has raised over $160,000 to support Special Olympics New York. The funds sponsor sports training and competitions for those with intellectual disabilities.

On a windy and cold day, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger joined nearly 400 Plattsburgh-area residents, college students and officials who ran in waves across city beach sands and into the 51-degree waters of Lake Champlain.  “The beach is a little different here than the ramp in Burlington. You’ve got to run a little farther to get into the water. But it’s a great cause and I enjoy cold water.”

Plattsburgh Mayor James Calnon had planned to participate, but had minor surgery and sent a substitute. Ward 6 City Councilor Joshua Kretser eagerly jumped into the lake.   “It’s a beautiful sunny day and it was really relatively warm until I made the plunge and now the wind is definitely making me feel it!” What did it feel like?  “It was just a rush. It was invigorating. I ran out and the tide’s kind of low right now so we had to go out pretty far. And then I just turned around and did a back-flop right into the water.”

During July’s Mayor’s Cup boat race, the President of the Burlington City Council had claimed her boat couldn’t be beat. But a boat captained by Kretser’s brother beat that boat. The two mayors made a bet on the boats — the loser had to take the polar plunge. Kretser says his participation goes beyond the bet.
“The Special Olympics has been a driving force in communities all across the nation. We’re really happy to have so much community collaboration and such a great turn out for an amazing cause.”

Burlington’s Weinberger had no qualms fulfilling a bet that supports a good cause.  “I really appreciate what the Special Olympics does in this community. It’s a great cause. They really create wonderful events for our athletes throughout Vermont and New York and I couldn’t be happier to be here and support the Special Olympics.”

Dannemora resident Melinda Clark had just come out of the water and was surrounded by soaked friends.  “I’m freezing! I’ll do it again in a heartbeat though.” Why did you do it?  “For a good cause. I have an older brother who is disabled and he utilizes Special Olympics as an outlet. So I’m here representing my brother.”  Have you ever done this before?  “No, this is my first time. Cold!”

The Polar Plunge is one example of how the cross-lake communities could find ways to collaborate on more serious issues, according to Mayor Weinberger.
“I’ve had a chance to meet with Mayor Calnon on a couple of occasions. I think the challenges that they face on this side of the lake are similar to Burlington’s in some ways. We certainly share the desire for a clean Lake Champlain and are impacted by this important discussion going on about storm water protection and TMDL issues. So I look forward to doing more than jumping in the lake with Mayor Calnon. I think our communities have a lot in common and a lot to learn from each other.”

Councillor Kretser is hopeful the two cities can forge closer links.  “I have high hopes. The collaborations between Mayor Calnon and Mayor Weinberger have been great this year . Whether it’s collaboration about what to do with our shared waterfronts, ways to encourage people to come back and forth between to have a good time. It’s been great. I know there’s going to be a lot more further collaborations in the future.”

More than $50,700 was raised during the Plattsburgh Polar Plunge.

The 8th Annual Lake George Polar Plunge for Special Olympics is scheduled for Saturday, November 15th.