Williston is committed to helping the Special Olympics give back to the community

WILLISTON, ND (KUMV) – Williston hasn’t had a local Special Olympics branch in years. However, the police department is keeping “Polar Plunges” in the hopes of making a comeback. For some community members, the program is very dear to their hearts.

Heather Cook is the Public Information Officer for the Williston Police Department. His six-year-old son Maverick lives with autism.

“We have known each other for about four years. He goes to ABA Therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy,” Cook said.

Heather is one of those diving for Polaris on Saturday. For her, it’s about giving her son opportunities to participate in activities.

“When we fall [our daughter] Riley shuts down in gymnastics, he’s upset because he can’t stay and do it with her. It just gives him an opportunity that I think some kids don’t have,” Cook said.

Through the Special Olympics, people with disabilities can participate in several sports and compete with other athletes. Williams County Emergency Manager Mike Smith had two children who were part of the program in Oklahoma.

“It was something that I think changed their lives and made them very happy. They always went to meetings and practices with excitement. They were with kids like themselves,” Smith said.

Participation in this year’s care is extra important because supporters want to give back to the local program.

“Any money we raise in the Williston area. It’s earmarked for our program. It’s not spent on anything else. It all goes directly back into rebuilding the program,” Cook said.

For Cook and Smith, the Special Olympics opens up opportunities for people with disabilities and creates social interaction through competition. With community support through events like the Polar Plunge, people in Williston can once again have that opportunity.

The Polar Plunge will be held Saturday at the Upper Missouri Valley Fairgrounds with a live auction at 11 a.m. followed by a plunge at 12:30 p.m.

Each person who “drows” into the icy waters must raise at least $100, and there are various prizes awarded for different categories, including best costume, belly button and youngest plunger.

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