The Polar Plunge was started by officers who belong to the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. The Law Enforcement Torch Run is an organization that is comprised of Police Officers from local, state, and federal agencies who are dedicated to raising funds and awareness for Special Olympics. Each year in addition to hosting Polar Plunge events and other fundraising initiatives, Police Officers from around the world come together to run the torch throughout their respective regions in an effort to create awareness for Special Olympics. In New York, nearly 3,000 Police Officers annually support the Law Enforcement Torch run and raise over $3 million for our athletes and programs.
The Rochester Polar Plunge is part of the Special Olympics New York Polar Plunge series. There are over 15 Polar Plunges statewide and the event serves as the signature fundraising initiative to benefit the athletes and programs of Special Olympics New York. The first Plunge in Rochester was held in 2001 and had 75 plungers with $15,000 being raised. The event is a part of the Lakeside Winter Celebration. The Rochester Polar Plunge is the largest Polar Plunge in New York and one of the largest Polar Plunges to benefit Special Olympics in the entire U.S. Since its inception the Rochester Polar Plunge has raised millions of dollars for local Special Olympics Programs. In 2016, the event hit record attendance and fundraising dollars with 2,300 registered Plungers and over $300,000 raised.