Eighty-five people participated in Manhattan’s Polar Plunge Saturday, raising about $16,000 for Special Olympics Kansas.

The fundraiser returned to Tuttle Creek State Park for the 2022 observance, having previously shifted to Bill Snyder Family Stadium in 2021. Manhattan is one of 11 Kansas cities participating in the event, a key fundraiser to support the local Manhattan Sports Club team.

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Special Olympics Sports and Program Manager Krystin Guggisberg was ‘thrilled’ with how the event played out.

“My concern being out here was maybe people would have a hard time finding us, but we had a huge crowd of plungers and people here just to support Manhattan Special Olympics and Special Olympics Kansas,” says Guggisberg. “A lot of enthusiasm down on the beach. It was an awesome group of plungers this year.”

Guggisberg was also impressed with the variety of costumes participants were sporting. This year’s theme for the costume contest was #PolarOpposites, though costumes of all sorts were on the scene.

Awards were presented in various categories prior to the Plunge proper. Highest fundraising team went to Team “Slippery When Wet” (Manhattan Special Olympics). The highest fundraising individual was also a member of the team, Grayson Zeka, present in the form of a cut-out. “Slippery When Wet” was also the winner of the team with most participants award.

Local Civic Groups Plunge

Polar Plunge saw support from numerous emergency responder agencies from around the region including Riley and Pottawatomie Counties as well as Junction City. Riley County EMS won best team costume, while RCPD’s Gage Whitmore took the best individual costume award. The highest fundraising division at RCPD was Corrections.

Following the awards, it was time to get cold. Plungers ran, dunked and dived their way into Tuttle, while buckets were drawn for a land dunk as well. Heated tents were nearby for participants to warm up, and RCPD’s food truck was on site to serve up hot dogs for folks on their way out.

RCPD Officer Rachel Pate says the day went great, calling it ‘one of the best plunges we’ve had so far.’ She says her favorite costume of the day was the KISS costumes sported by Riley County dispatchers.

“I think KISS was a little sad they didn’t get it,” says Pate. “But they’ll be back next year. They won it two years ago as Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy and they’ve been trying to defend their title so we’ll see what 2023 brings.