The Polar Plunge has had lofty fundraising goals in the past, but nothing compares to the ambitious $1 Million goal set for 2024. After raising more than $900,000 in 2023, Special Olympics Massachusetts is on the road to earning one-million-dollars this Plunge season. How does it plan to get there? One thing’s for sure, without the support from Massachusetts Law Enforcement Torch Run and Olympia Moving & Storage, this would be close to impossible.
Meet Lieutenant Larry ‘LJ’ Jedrey, who has been with the Everett Police Department for 25 years and involved with Special Olympics MA for more than a decade. LJ can be found at seemingly every major Special Olympics event throughout the year, from Polar Plunges in the winter, to Summer Games in June, he makes an effort to be around the Special Olympics community as much as possible.
“Since I got involved, it has been the single most important thing outside of work that I do,” said LJ. “What I get from volunteering here, by watching the athletes and supporting them and talking with them and getting hugs from them and just taking pictures and video with them, I get more for myself than I could ever give back to them.”
The Special Olympics MA partnership with Law Enforcement is invaluable, especially when it comes to Plunge season, as 10 out of the 13 Polar Plunges are sponsored by a local Police Department.
“The Polar Plunge, for LETR and Special Olympics, it’s the largest fundraising event we have all year long…The idea is to bring out more of our communities, more of our police departments so we can get more officers involved,” he said.
LJ, alongside Marlborough PD’s Andy Larose and Al Pires from Olympia Moving & Storage (Special Olympics MA’s year-round logistics partner), is headed to Michigan this week to retrieve an incredible unique vehicle that will help Special Olympics MA on its road to $1 Million… the Bear Force One. This massive pool on wheels measures 33 feet long and can hold up to 2,800 gallons of water.
The Bear Force One will allow anyone who would rather Special Olympics MA bring the Plunge to them to participate. Plus, it will make in-person pool plunges all the easier to host. “It was very laborious,” said LJ. “We would bring in a pool and all pitched in to put it together, fill it up, everybody plunges in and once everyone is finished we have to pack it up, put it in the truck, get it out of there.”
Last year, Everett PD set a fundraising goal of $5,000, which they exceeded in the first week and finished the season with $16,000. This year they set a goal of $20,000; but LJ expects the event to raise more than $25K, especially with Everett being the first Polar Plunge in Massachusetts history to use the Bear Force One.
The Massachusetts Law Enforcement Torch Run community is excited to see all of the new opportunities the Bear Force One will bring across the state and is even more excited to see how it will result in a powerful impact for Special Olympics athletes.
“The athletes, and at the end of the day it’s all about them,” said LJ. “It’s all about their training, it’s all about inclusion, it’s all about building their confidence and doing the things that we’re doing here.”