Hour after hour, a select group of volunteers braved the frigid Long Island Sound water—and wind—to raise money for Special Olympics athletes.
The group raised $16,000 in the Super Plunge, according to Director of Communications and Marketing Debbie Horne.
Some of the volunteers were law enforcement officials, like Middletown Police Officer Jay Bodell.
“Extremely cold, cold is the only word I could use,” Bodell said. “It’s a tough night, the sleep deprivation, getting up as soon as you get warm to get back in the water. But, it’s just a small price to pay to raise money for the athletes.”
Special Olympics athletes like Angie D’amico, who is Bodell’s longtime friend and inspiration.
Evidently, the feeling is mutual.
“It means a lot to me to watch these police officers go in for the Special Olympics,” D’Amico said.
“They mean so much to me and my family,” she continued.
D’Amico became involved at eight years old. She says the organization and support from Connecticut Law Enforcement volunteers changed her life.
“From then to now, I have become a better person and more spoken and more like a self-advocate for other people and all the athletes,” D’Amico said.
Her dad, Pat D’Amico, says he worried about his daughter being accepted by her peers when she was a kid. But organizations like Special Olympics Connecticut have brought out the best in her, and in their community.
“They have a harder thing to achieve in life that we do, they have to be accepted,” Pat D’Amico said.
“I mean, you look at where she started and to see her accomplish this—that’s Special Olympics, that’s the Torch Run, it’s the entire organization. It’s phenomenal.”
Organizer Joe Carlone said the Super Plunge is about more than raising money for these athletes.
“It’s the acceptance revolution, you know, accept our athletes. They’re part of us, they’re better than us,” Carlone said. “I say that because they have such spirit and such joy and include them. Whatever way you look at them, their happiness and joy could spread throughout all of us.”
Pat D’Amico would do anything for the volunteers who have helped his daughter become the best version of herself, saying, “I would walk around the world for them—all these guys—they’re phenomenal, you cannot say enough words what they do for these kids.”