News Article Details

Polar Plunge set for March

Daily Press - 2/12/2019

Feb. 11--PHELAN -- Brett Laza is one of many hardy souls who plan on wading into the frigid waters of Big Bear Lake next month during the 8th Annual Polar Plunge fundraiser for Special Olympics Inland Empire.

During the event, plungers will wade -- or walk, crawl, run or dance -- into the lake. Once in the chilly waters, they decide how deep they will go or how long they will stay. As in past Plunges, some participants will wear costumes.

Last year, Laza wore a Flash superhero outfit and spoke words of motivation to the crowed before he waded in.

A resident of Phelan, the 27-year old Laza will join other participants in raising money to fund Special Olympics Inland Empire programs in the local community. This year's motto: "Freezin' for a Reason."

The March 2 event will include the plunge, lunch, hot tubs, a family fun area rock wall, live music, raffle, vendor booths and more.

"Your donation will enrich the lives of athletes with intellectual disabilities, like me, through sports, education, and athlete health," Brett Laza wrote on his donation page on the event's website. "Every dollar raised by Special Olympics not only provides equipment, uniforms, and training for our athletes, but also gives them empowerment, joy, and improved health."

"We've been involved with the Plunge for seven years, but this will be Brett's fourth year plunging," said Brett's mother, Kim Laza. "He's a Global Ambassador for Special Olympics so he's spoken at many events, including last year's plunge."

In July, Laza brought home the gold during the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle. In 2015, the athlete traveled to Athens, Greece, for the Torch Lighting Ceremony for the Special Olympics World Games. He was also part of the Final Leg Torch Run Team preceding the games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Kim Laza told the Daily Press several teams from the High Desert are also preparing to participate in the Polar Plunge

"During his first plunge, Brett was extremely nervous," Kim Laza said. "He was the first one in the water and the first one out of the water and into the jacuzzi."

The goal of the plungers is to raise $90,000 for Special Olympics.

There are two participation options for the event including the "I want to plunge!" This option includes a $50 fundraising minimum to plunge and to receive incentives.

The "I'm too chicken to plunge" option includes a fundraising minimum of $50 to join other "chickens" in the "chicken coop," where they'll stay warm and dry while cheering on the plungers in a commemorative T-shirt

Store manager Susan Evans with the 76 Beyond Gas and Mini-Mart on Dale Evans Parkway in Apple Valley told the Daily Press many convenient stores are accepting donations for the Polar Plunge/Special Olympics through Polar Plunge polar bear paper icons.

Customers can purchase and sign an icon for $1 a piece. Signed icons will be displayed in the store to show their support of Special Olympics.

The Polar Plunge Pre-Registration Party on March 1 will be held at the Cave, 40789 Village Dr. in Big Bear. The event includes live music, finger food, raffles and more.

The Polar Plunge is scheduled to begin with registration at 10 a.m. followed by the opening ceremony at 11:45 a.m. on March 2 at Veteran's Park, 40870 Big Bear Blvd. in Big Bear Lake.

To donate, register, sponsor or receive more information about the Polar Plunge, visit

Reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227,, Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz


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