GREENFIELD — It was a sight unusual enough to make passers-by slow down and gawk.
A long, red Dumpster filled with a pool liner and topped with a white plastic pool ladder, was the center of attention during Saturday’s inaugural Arctic Dumpster Dive, a fundraiser hosted by Elks Lodge No. 1720 to benefit Special Olympics Hancock County.
Some 15 brave jumpers took a dip in the icy cold water, which was pumped by firefighters from Greenfield Fire Territory, said event organizer Gil Garcia. The participants paid $20 for the privilege of going for a chilly dip — $50 if they wanted a beach towel after their dive. The event raised about $1,500 for the county’s Special Olympians, Garcia said.
After jumping into the receptacle, the divers were tasked with traversing its length, ringing a bell and returning to the ladder. Tom Finney, esteemed lecturing Knight of the Elks Lodge, performed a belly flop from the pool ladder into the cold water Saturday. While that was shocking, he said the coldest part was walking toward the Dumpster in his bare feet from the lodge’s front doors.
He’d gladly do it again to help the county’s Special Olympians be able to travel to competitions in their events, he said.
It costs some $200 per athlete to travel to the summer games in Terre Haute, said Jaimi Smith, assistant coordinator for Special Olympics Hancock County. Every year, the group takes a group of about 100 athletes, coaches and volunteers to the competition at Indiana State University in the second week of June.
Garcia first had the idea for the event, based on the national Special Olympics fundraiser, the Polar Plunge, about a year ago, he said. He contacted leaders late last year to see how they felt about the possibility of partnering with the Elks Lodge.
“We were pretty excited to get more community involvement,” said Special Olympics coordinator Letitia Koch.
If Saturday’s event is any indication, it will be a fun event for years to come, she said.
“Our cheeks are hurting from laughing all day,” she said.
Garcia said he hopes more people will come out for next year’s event, which is tentatively slated for the last Saturday in February.
Koch has led the group for about two years, she said. In the past, the organization has held frequent, smaller fundraisers, but she said she hopes to have larger fundraisers like the Arctic Dumpster Dive spaced out more throughout the year, so donors to the Special Olympics don’t feel like they’re constantly being asked for donations.
Leaders with the organization are appreciative leaders of the Elks lodge want to work together, Koch said.
For more information about Special Olympics Hancock County, visit soinhancockcounty.org.