MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Southern Thunder Chapter of the Harley Owners Group was just one of the supporters who came out to raise money for the Special Olympics Saturday. For me, the Polar Plunge started with a motorcycle ride to the river with the HOG Chapter from Southaven, Mississippi, to Tom Lee Park on the banks of the Mississippi River near downtown Memphis. That's where things got really wet and wild.
Some think people who ride motorcycles are crazy. But it's what the folks at the Polar Plunge were doing that was really crazy. Dozens and dozens lined up to jump into the Mississippi, a perilous thought even when it's not the middle of the winter. But they were determined to raise awareness and money for a good cause, the Special Olympics. "It's just a fun even and contagious; the kids are just infectious," said Amy Schaefer.
Schaefer's 35 year-old son Andy is in the autism spectrum. He's been involved in Special Olympics for 30 years. You may also recognize him for his day job. Andy sacks groceries at the new Kroger in Germantown. His job is rewarding and gives him a feeling of accomplishment, just like the Special Olympics. "Just the social interaction, the confidence and the feeling of achievement he has. It just means so much to him."
I asked Andy and his mother what all of the support meant to them. "It's pretty neat," Andy said, his mother replied "I'm thrilled."
Ben Sumner is another Special Olympian who had a special costume to take his plunge. Decked out in a Polar Bear costume, he prepared to plunge.
"Are you afraid it's going to be too cold?" I asked. "Yes sir!!" he replied to the laughter of his friends. After he hit the cold water, I asked him if it was worth it.
"Yeah it feels good right now," he exclaimed.
Besides the plunge, there was a chili cook-off, a raffle, and the Southern Thunder HOG Chapter raised money with a ride to the event.
If you weren't there, you can still "jump in" and help.
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Chris Best is the Assistant News Director for WMC Action News 5. He's a husband and father of four, He's also a motorcycle enthusiast.