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Hundreds plunge into frozen waters for Special Olympics

Kaitlyn Riley

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Diving into a good cause, hundreds of people visited Black River Beach Saturday for the 22nd Annual Polar Plunge in La Crosse.

Nearly 400 people pre-registered to take the plunge, raising $60,000 before the event even started, according to Kerry Gloede, a Polar Plunge committee member. She noted the warm weather may have inspired even more people to participate that day.

“Our athletes train and compete year-round, and this event is really impactful for them and allows them to do the programs and sports that they enjoy doing,” Gloede said. “This is a huge event for Special Olympics Wisconsin. It is heartwarming to see so many people come out.”

There are 300 Special Olympics athletes in La Crosse and 1,700 in the region, according to Gloede.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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