Officers from the Dalton Police Department took the plunge on Saturday, jumping into the chilly waters of Acworth Beach to raise money for Special Olympics Georgia. Five officers from the DPD pledged to brave the frigid water in exchange for donations to SOGA. They also won a special award for their fashion choice.
Assistant Chief Cliff Cason, Captain Chris Crossen, Sergeant Ricky Long, and Officers Terry Smith and Bart Chandler donned penguin costumes for the event Saturday and waddled into the cold water. The group won the event’s Best Costume award. Officers also got to meet Shaquille O’Neal who was on hand to help promote the event.
Above: Officer Terry Smith, Assistant Chief Cliff Cason, Officer Bart Chandler, Captain Chris Crossen, and Sergeant Ricky Long post with Shaquille O’Neal at Saturday’s Polar Plunge (note: our guys aren’t that tall, Shaq was standing down hill behind them)
The combined fundraising effort of the Dalton Police Department and students from Dalton High School and Dalton Middle School raised approximately $4,000 for SOGA. Andrea Barron’s class at Dalton High School (nicknamed “The Best of the Best”) spearheaded the fundraising at DHS which was named the top fundraising school in the state.
The DPD’s fundraising effort for the Special Olympics is continuing with the Law Enforcement Torch Run project. You can help by purchasing Torch Run hats or running shirts from the DPD or donating through pledges of support for officers who will run in a Torch Run relay April 27th, the day before Whitfield County’s summer games. The route will take participating officers on a route through the city of Dalton.
The 2017 Law Enforcement Torch Run shirts are sky blue dry-fit running shirts with the Law Enforcement Torch Run logo and an image of a Special Olympics athlete carrying the torch. The hats are available in two styles. One is tan and the other is in a digital camouflage pattern. The hats cost $12 each and the shirts cost $15. The shirts are available in all sizes. Both the hats and shirts are on sale at the Police Services Center at 301 Jones Street.
Each year, the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) is the largest fundraising effort for SOGA. More than 100 law enforcement agencies across the state take part through various fundraisers which culminate with a series of relay runs with the Special Olympics torch. In 2015, the LETR effort raised more than $866,000 in Georgia. Over the years, Georgia’s LETRs have raised more than $11 million for the Special Olympics.
Funds raised through the Torch Run fund many aspects of the Special Olympics operation. Much of that money goes to send athletes to compete in the statewide Special Olympics Games. It costs $85 to send one athlete to one of the state games meets. At these games, children and adults with intellectual disabilities get to compete in high quality sports, interact with peers, and experience new places. Participation in the games means athletes work towards a goal, learn and master new skills, and develop good habits that could improve their health and lives.
Special Olympics Georgia does not receive funds from local, state, or federal funds. SOGA also does not receive United Way funding. Funding for SOGA, which operates competitions year-round for their athletes, comes from donations and fundraising events such as the Law Enforcement Torch Run. Neither Special Olympics athletes nor their families pay fees to compete. More than 26,000 athletes are currently being served by SOGA.
Below: DPD officers test the waters before taking the plunge