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Rowan-Salisbury EC department plunges in place after raising $1,300 for Special Olympics

SALISBURY — Fair weather came just in time for a not-so-polar plunge Tuesday to celebrate clearing a milestone for Rowan County Special Olympics.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ Exceptional Children Department raised $1,310 for Special Olympics, and in lieu of the large-scale polar plunge for Special Olympics normally hosted at High Rock Lake, the department decided to take the plunge together, film it and submit it as an entry for a statewide compilation.

The new “plunge in place” model has become the norm because the COVID-19 has put a damper on mass events. The folks who took the plunge into a residential pool on Tuesday did it with social distancing.

The weather cooperated, too. It has been unseasonably warm this week, but the water was still cold. The department fundraises for local Special Olympics each year.

The state organization has raised $91,000 of its $150,000 goal for the campaign so far and people can form fundraising teams.

This weekend, Salisbury Civitan Club President Patty Lefevers took a solo plunge at Rufty-Holmes Senior Center.

Tuesday was Exceptional Children Director Elizabeth Mitcham’s first plunge with the district.

She said the department is still collecting donations. People went out in the community to collect, teachers have donated and are collecting donations in their classes as well. The department’s normal goal is to raise $500, but this year nearly tripled that.

EC program specialist Suzette Pritchard is the liaison between Special Olympics and RSS. She said the video compilation of all the plunges will be published on Saturday.

Special Olympics as a whole looks different this year as well. Normally, RSS would host track and field events at West Rowan High School, but this year there is a curriculum athletes can complete to get incentives and rewards.

“It’s sunny, it’s 65, yes I’m very happy about that,” Pritchard said. “I’m never happy about jumping in cold water but I do it because I love our kids.”

The next event on the agenda for the department is Pi Day to celebrate student math growth. Mitcham, who used to teach math, will take some pies to the face.

“It’s all in good fun,” Mitcham said.

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