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The special reason these cousins will dive into frigid waters at Pocahontas State Park

Posted at 9:42 AM, Dec 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-06 10:05:08-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — Dozens of participants will fill Pocahontas State Park to take part in a polar plunge and help raise money for a good cause on Saturday. 

“Test your mettle big-time with an ice-cold plunge in support of 18,000+ amazing Special Olympics Virginia athletes,” said the group’s website. 

Registration opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday at 10301 State Park Road in Chesterfield. Opening ceremonies begin at 12:30 p.m. and the plunge into the chilly waters starts at about 1 p.m. 

Cousins Drew Bahen and Chelsea Gaughran know the plunge well, and have participated in the fundraiser for the Special Olympics of Virginia over several years. 

Chelsea was born with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, or DiGeorge syndrome, which leads to poor development of several body systems. 

The 33-year-old Special Olympics Global Messenger told CBS 6’s Brendan King about what she finds to be the most reward part of the experience. 

“Just seeing that we can always just be who we are. All my friends just grow and everything and seeing everybody break out of their bubble or they're scared, and they just do it,” Chelsea said. “I’m very proud to be a part of that.”

Chelsea said the Special Olympics has allowed her to make new friends and not feel invisible anymore. 

She participants in golf, bowling, track and basketball throughout the year. 

Pocahontas Park Polar Plunge .jpg

Drew has supported her the entire way and is now trying to outraise his cousin during this year's fundraiser. 

The 36-year-old's first experience with Special Olympics was during an internship in college with the organization. 

“The most rewarding part to me is interacting with athletes and seeing how much they love this organization more than anyone,” Drew explained. “It really opened my mind and it's awesome to see.” 

They also serve on the group’s young professionals board. 

According to the Special Olympics of Virginia’s Reach Report, they supported nearly 26,000 athletes for the 2018-2019 school year.

The organization hosted 2,500 competitions and worked with nearly 9,900 volunteers through 507 programs.

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