Augusta Liddic/The Daily TimesShawn Archuleta and Jenny Dennis, both Community Service Officers with Farmington Police Department, jump into the water
Augusta Liddic/The Daily Times Shawn Archuleta and Jenny Dennis, both Community Service Officers with Farmington Police Department, jump into the water during the Polar Plunge on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2012, to benefit Special Olympics New Mexico. (Augusta Liddic)
FARMINGTON — The area's second annual Polar Plunge raised $4,575 for Special Olympics New Mexico.

About 50 people gathered at 11 a.m. at the Farmington Recreation Center to watch as participants from the Farmington Police Department, Farmington Public Library, Farmington Fire Department, and the community braved the cold morning.

For the participants, it was a small sacrifice.

"It's only cold when you get in the water," said Shawn Archuleta, a Community Service Officer with the police department. "It really wasn't that bad."

The event's 29 participants were required to raise at least $100 each to take the plunge.

"It's a great event," said Farmington Police Chief Kyle Westall. "The (department) has long been involved in raising money for Special Olympics New Mexico."

Westall challenged Aztec Police Chief Mike Heal, Bloomfield Police Chief Michael Kovacs and San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen to participate in the event next year.

"I think it's just amazing what people will do for our athletes," said Debra Lisenbee, Special Olympics New Mexico area director. "Police departments are the leaders nationwide, not just here. Our police department is the role model for the state in their support. They take the time to better the community."

The event was organized by Sgt. Kent O'Donnell.

"We've had great support from our community," O'Donnell said. "All of the local businesses ...


even in times when money is tight, the people support (the cause). In the end, it's the Special Olympians that really win."

The community's support seemed to make a world of difference for the Special Olympians in the crowd.

"It just means a lot that they raise money so that I can (play) sports," said Ashli Thompson, a Special Olympian from Farmington.

The money raised will go to support the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which promotes community awareness of sports training, athletic competitions and other services offered by Special Olympics New Mexico.

"It feels great," said Ryan Hanson, another Special Olympian. "I'm so glad they came out in support of the Torch Run."

Hanson rolled up his right sleeve revealing a flaming torch tattooed above the words "Flame of Hope."