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Village of Park Forest employees are participating in the 2023 Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge in Manteno on March 4 to raise money for Special Olympics Illinois.
Park Forest Police Chief Paul Winfrey will lead team Park Forest 204 into frigid Lake Manteno at this year's plunge. The team name, Park Forest 204, is in honor of Park Forest Police Officer Tim Jones, who was injured in the line of duty in 2016 and wore badge number 204. The following year, team Park Forest 204 took their first plunge into the lake sporting #TimStrong t-shirts.
Winfrey said this year's goal is to raise $5,000 toward the effort. Special Olympics Illinois supports more than 21,000 traditional athletes with intellectual disabilities and 9,000 young athletes across the state by enhancing their physical fitness, motor skills, self-confidence, social skills and encouraging family and community support.
Chief Winfrey said this cause means a lot to him personally.
"This will be our sixth year participating in the polar plunge," Winfrey said. "My personal passion came in because of my niece. She has Down syndrome, and Special Olympics Illinois really brought her out of her shell. She is an entirely different person when she's out competing."
Winfrey said at least one of his officers has a child who's also an athlete. He said he would like the community to help his team reach their goal of $5,000 to help other athletes achieve their dreams across the state.
"The easiest way for the community to help is by clicking the link. There they can donate to any team member," Winfrey said. "That's the best financial way people can support."
Winfrey said over the years, employees spanning numerous departments have also participated in the plunge. So far, he has six people on team Park Forest 204 but said the team is growing.
Though residents can't participate in the plunge, Winfrey encourages their attendance at the event.
The plunge happens Saturday, March 4, at 2 p.m. at the Manteno Sportsmen's Club, 851 North Main Street in Manteno, Illinois.
To help Park Forest 204 reach their goal, click this link to donate.