Peter Abbarno: Cold feet, cold hands and warm hearts support Special Olympics


“I love jumping into icy cold water in January,” said nobody. That’s what I thought, anyway.

However, a group of brave volunteers will plunge into Mayfield Lake on Jan. 27 to benefit Lewis County Special Olympics and local Special Olympics athletes and families.

The Lewis County Icicle Brigade is a group of volunteers who continue to give their time and effort to coordinate and participate in the yearly polar plunge to raise money and awareness for local Special Olympics athletes.

This same team also helps the Centralia Police Officers Association coordinate the annual Lewis County Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit the Special Olympics.

Special Olympics Washington is an important catalyst for inclusion. Special Olympics Washington is the leader in sports, inclusive health and community building, empowering children and adults with intellectual disabilities to be valued on and off the playing field. 

As a volunteer and supporter, I can truly attest that the Special Olympics will change your life, as much as it will change the lives of those in our community.

Your support is more important now than ever.

In 2023, the high cost of fuel, goods and services put substantial financial strain on families throughout our communities. Sadly, financial uncertainty disproportionately hit many Special Olympics families that need to travel for practices and events, and must purchase uniforms and necessary equipment for competitions. Without the necessary financial support, athletes could miss out on the opportunity to proudly represent their community.

The Special Olympics organization fosters relationships for athletes and the entire family. Importantly, athletes are provided opportunities to improve health and fitness through competition. Physicians and health care professionals provide dental, vision, hearing, feet and general health screenings at no cost to Special Olympics athletes at tournaments. Those services are invaluable to so many local families.

At the 2023 Polar Plunge, I remember a particular conversation with Lewis County Special Olympics coordinator and parent, Sarah Sons. Sarah, who also serves as the developmental disabilities program coordinator at Lewis County Public Health & Social Services, shared with me that a Special Olympics coach was very concerned they would not have enough money for uniforms this year.

At the 2023 plunge, we raised enough money for Sarah to deliver the good news that we had the funds to make sure every athlete on the team would get a uniform. It made that very cold morning even more worthwhile. It was warming to know our efforts had a tangible and immediate impact on a team, on a coach, on parents and on our athletes.

Contributions to the polar plunge are used to help pay for transportation, uniforms, equipment and to make sure Lewis County Special Olympics events are the best for our athletes and families.

Please consider joining our team or supporting our plungers by visiting At the event, you will find heaters, coffee, hot cocoa, treats, more heaters, warm and private places to change, and lots of smiles.  The best way I can sum up our Lewis County Polar Plunge event is “cold feet, cold hands, but warm hearts.”

I want to thank our supporters (so far) such as Centralia Police Officer Ruben Ramirez and the Centralia Police Officers Association, Sarah Sons, Brenda Pagett, Tom Alderson and Awards West Printwares, The Chronicle, KELA-KMNT radio, Laurie Gunsolley, Althauser Rayan Abbarno, and all our volunteer plungers (so far): Tara Lindholm, Kristi Bridgman, Chris Judd, Terry Wentworth, Seth Sharp, Holly Abbarno, Duane Blair and Cody Wells.

I hope you support our efforts or join the Lewis County Icicle Brigade on Jan. 27 at Mayfield Lake Park for the Lewis County Polar Plunge at 9 a.m.


Peter Abbarno is a Centralia-based attorney who also serves as a Republican state representative for the 20th Legislative District.