MONTICELLO — It was 16 degrees outside in Monticello on Saturday, with a blanket of snow all around.
But that didn’t stop Monticello Police Chief John Carter and others from entering a frigid pool to help raise money for the Special Olympics.
Carter and four other people took part in a “frigid dip” as part of their training for the Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge, set for March 1 at the Lake of the Woods in Mahomet.
While some criminals in Monticello might not mind asking a policeman to jump in the lake, Carter is one police chief who is happy to do just that — for a good cause.
The Polar Plunge is more than just an opportunity for people to take a flying leap into the frigid waters of an Illinois lake.
It helps raise funds for the Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
The Special Olympics has special meaning for Chief Carter.
His 12-year-old son, Tyler, took part last year in the Special Olympics in swimming, basketball and track and field, and his 9-year-old daughter, Whitney, is a unified partner, a person who helps the Special Olympians at the event.
“The Special Olympics is important to my family because my son is a Special Olympics athlete,” Carter said.
Carter, who has completed the Polar Plunge on five occasions, first got involved with the Special Olympics when he worked with the Mexico, Mo., Public Safety Department.
When Carter came to Monticello, he sought a similar venue here in East Central Illinois for him to continue his support for the program, and he found out that a Polar Plunge is held annually in nearby Mahomet.
So Carter has been putting together a team of Monticello residents willing to brave extremely cold weather for a good cause.
In preparation for the March 1 event, a kiddie pool was set up on Saturday in a parking lot at Nick’s Park in Monticello to serve as a practice run and local fundraiser.
“As we filled the pool, ice started to form on it,” he said.
Carter said five people went into the water, including both Tyler and Whitney.
“It wasn’t too bad, but it was really cold,” Carter said. “I was in there for about 45 seconds to a minute.
“You are never really prepared for the Polar Plunge. It is one of those things you just do. You just go in and come out.”
The Monticello participants raised $300 on Saturday for the Special Olympics, and some local businesses also donated some items to raffle off to help the cause.
For more information on the Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge, call Jackie Walk at 217-355-1750.