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A chilly splash for athletes: the 'Polar Plunge' for Special Olympics comes to Rock Island

Over 160 people came to Bally's Quad Cities with a goal to raise money for Special Olympics athletes.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — Chilly weather in the Quad Cities did not stop some people from taking a dip in a specially cold pool.

Bally's Quad Cities hosted a 'Polar Plunge' by Special Olympics Illinois.

Participants raise money in the community by asking family, friends or businesses to donate. In return, they promise to take a splash in the chilly waters.

"It's really fun! People cheer you on!" athlete Kaylee McLaughlin said.

The fundraising supports year-round training and participation in sports for the athletes - something McLaughlin is grateful for.

"Us athletes, we don't have to pay money to do sports and stuff," McLaughlin said. "It's free of charge for the athletes."

The Rock Island Polar Plunge had 163 pre-registered participants with the goal of raising over $37,500.

It was the third plunge this year for Special Olympics Illinois; the other two happened in Macomb and Galesburg.

The money will support over 800 athletes in Rock Island, Henry, Mercer, Knox, Warren and other counties.

20 different groups came together for the plunge, representing local police departments, schools, businesses and more.

For athletes like McLaughlin, the support matters as the Special Olympics are more than just fitness.

"I get to meet a lot of people because through the Special Olympics, I met people from Texas, China, Canada and all over the place," McLaughlin said.

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