Jeremie Ballinger is the Kansas City Metro Area Director for the Special Olympics Missouri.

Jeremie Ballinger is the Kansas City Metro Area Director for the Special Olympics Missouri.

1 The Polar Plunge begins today. Can you tell us a little about the event? The Plunge is our signature fundraising event. Brave people will raise $75 or more for the opportunity to plunge into Longview Lake this Saturday.



2 How successful has the event been throughout the years? We’re very proud of the Plunge. In year one, 64 people plunged and raised $13,000. Since then, it has truly taken off. Last year’s event drew in over 950 plungers and raised $182,000, which ranked our plunge 11th in the world.



3 How many groups from Eastern Jackson County are involved? We have groups from all over the area, including Jackson County. Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit, Oak Grove and Pleasant Hill are among the largest teams every year. 



4 In what way does the Missouri Special Olympics program benefit from this event? All money raised at the Plunge stays in Kansas City and supports our local budget. Our program offers free sports training and competition to more than 2,100 KC Metro athletes with mental disabilities.



5 Are there any plans to expand the program, offer new events? We continue to add sports – most recently, we’ve introduced flag football to our athletes, and launched a new Young Athlete program for 3 to 7 year olds. We are also expanding our track and field events in 2010, and may add an equestrian event in Eastern Jackson County.