2012 Polar Bear Plunge takes on double meaning

Published: Jan. 2, 2012 at 12:37 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 2, 2012 at 1:37 AM EST
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SULLIVAN'S ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Staying true to almost two decades of tradition, hundreds, if not thousands of people showed up on Sullivan's Island to take a Polar Bear Plunge to start the new year off right. But this year, the plunge took on a double meaning.

"This is our favorite event," said John Golden, Sunday afternoon before plunging into the Atlantic. "So it's a perfect day for our marriage."

Along with hundreds of people, Allie and John Golden took literally took the plunge at the event they participated in numerous times.

"We had a small wedding party but a large crowd," said Allie. "I couldn't imagine being anywhere else or having our wedding anywhere else but right here."

After "I do's" it was a race to the water to ring in the New Year by freezing the old one away.

Bill Dunleavy, co-owner of sponsor Dunleavy's Pub on Sullivan's Island, said the crowd for the 18th annual plunge was huge.

"This is the biggest we've ever had," said Dunleavy. "The best weather forecast... just a great turn out for the Special Olympics."

Last year, the event raised $44,000 for the Special Olympics. On the 12th year of pairing with the organization, this year's goal was set at $50,000.

"It's just a joyous occasion," said South Carolina Special Olympics marketing director Paula Byers.

Byers and her brother athlete Eddie Gregory said they'll have no problem hitting their goal.

"Every year we've done better than the year before," said Byers. "I guarantee you that this year is going to top last year."

The money collected for the Special Olympics will be used for the mid-winter games held at the Citadel this March.

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