In what has become an annual tradition, members of the Santa Clara Police Department (SCPD) and their families jumped into the freezing waters of the San Francisco Bay to pledge their support to the Special Olympics and their athletes.
“It was cold. It was cold. It was a nice day overall, but the water was definitely cold,” said Assistant Police Chief Dan Winter.
Winter captained the nine person team lovingly labeled the “Santa Clara P.D. Super Stars.” The team included both sworn and non-sworn personnel, as well as Winter’s two children.
The annual Dash & Splash was held at Aquatic Park in San Francisco on Feb. 23. Participants ran a quick 5k before jumping into the Bay’s icy water. While there are no official rules about how far into the water a polar plunge participant has to go, Winter said the team had its own rules.
“We had a team requirement that you had to get all your hair wet,” said Winter.
In addition to raising $2,588 for the Special Olympics the SCPD team also took home the prize for “Cutest Kid Costume.” The team members dressed up as emojis for the event.
More than 750 people from all over Northern California took part in this year’s plunge at Aquatic Park and they raised nearly $170,000 for the Special Olympics of Northern California. It’s just one of a series of polar plunge events taking place throughout the state.
There’s also a plunge in Lake Tahoe at the end of the month. Winter isn’t sure if he’ll be taking part, but another member of the Santa Clara P.D. Super Stars will be.
“This is going to be my first time doing the polar plunge in Tahoe,” said Kristin DuHain who works in the SCPD Records Office. “I’m going up with a couple friends from my hometown. It’s just something we’re going to do, away from the law enforcement side.”
DuHain got hooked on raising money for the Special Olympics when she joined the SCPD more than 10 years ago.
“I’ve been doing them [polar plunges] for about seven or eight years now,” said DuHain. “I join any kind of team that my department makes, whether it’s a law enforcement torch run team or a polar plunge team. I typically join it or volunteer in one way or another.”
“I discovered it a long time ago and I loved it; loved the whole idea behind it,” continued DuHain. “[I] loved meeting the athletes and getting to know them. I’ve been familiar with a lot of them. I’ve seen them a lot; I’ve met them a lot. I’ve seen them play. I go to their competitions. I got very involved and have taken over some of the administrative responsibilities the last couple of years.”
DuHain is now one of the driving forces behind the department’s Tip-a-Cop fundraisers. The department will hold a Tip-a-Cop event at The Fish Market on El Camino Real in the coming months as well as one at the Chili’s in Santa Clara at the end of April.
DuHain says the dates have not been set yet, but you can receive the latest updates on SCPD’s Special Olympics fundraising events by following the department on Facebook at www.facebook.com/santaclarapd.