WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s that time of year, the time when Special Olympics Massachusetts’ bravest supporters gather together for a polar plunge to raise money for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Over at the Hampton Ponds State Park in Westfield on Sunday, each plunger will take a dive into the cold waters alongside committing to raising at least $100 to support the 14,000 Special Olympics athletes throughout the state.

Every participant who either reaches or exceeds the fundraising goal will receive a Polar Plunge long-sleeve shirt. Already 300 Polar Plungers are registered, along with Mayor Will Reichelt of Westfield.

Prior to the plunge, a range of emotions were felt by the intrepid plungers. “Half excitement, half fear…,” expressed Jim Macken of Southwick

These folks were out here freezin’ for a reason! For over 20 years, the annual Massachusetts Special Olympics Polar Plunge has raised money to support inclusive sports and recreational activities for those with intellectual disabilities. Something a number of community members wanted to become a part of.

Shayla Kauffman of Middletown, Connecticut told 22News, “I’m pretty excited because obviously there’s a lot of people here and I’m glad I’m not going to be the only one doing it.”

“I’ve never done it before, so I hope that I’m not going to go hypothermic, and we’re just going to have an awesome time!,” expressed Sarah Woodbury of Feeding Hills.

The Special Olympics is able to bring its mission to life thanks to community support. Stephanie Esposito of the Special Olympics Massachusetts is grateful for that support, “Community is what the Special Olympics is all about. We’re bringing people together on this idea that, you know, people with and without disabilities deserve to belong in their community. Events like the Polar Plunge are so critical to that mission because it’s a show of support. There are hundreds of people here today who all believe that the world should be more inclusive.”

The initial overall goal of $30,000 was far exceeded before the plunge got its start, and this year’s participants have more than doubled what was collected last year. Polar Plunges across the state have raised over $750,000 already.

These funds help to provide athletes with the chance to participate in sports training and competition programs that will help them live longer, happier, healthier lives, according to a news release sent to 22News from Special Olympics Massachusetts. The Special Olympics movement helps to promote inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities in all areas of life.

“We come out, we support each other, and we do what we do. And, it’s for a good cause,” expressed Chicopee resident, Dennis Guyette.