MAHOMET, Ill., (WCIA) — One of the last things you’re probably thinking about this time of year is jumping in a cold lake. But, for nearly 200 people in Mahomet, that was their focus this weekend. Saturday was the Polar Plunge, all benefitting Special Olympics.

173 people braved the cold temps for a good cause.

“It’s so stinking cold,” Emmerson Hjort, one of the athletes, said.

Lynnsey Brownfield, a special education in Urbana, raised $3,500 and knows firsthand how it helps the athletes.

“The training, the participation, the transportation, everything you can think of that comes with competing at a bigger level, this money goes directly to that effort,” Brownfield said.

She was one of many cheering on the people getting in the water, and Morgan Quigley was one of them making that jump. He said the best part of the day was jumping in.

Micah McMahon with the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office was another one going in.

“It means everything,” he said. “I’ve gotten an opportunity to see these athletes in action and it’s just amazing the things they can do.”

Bridget Taylor, a special ed teacher in Villa Grove, said the athletes keep her coming back.

“Right now, they’re going to see that we’re all together as a team and we’re all freezing together,” Taylor said. “Seeing that we all came together for this special cause is really good for them.”

McMahon said the kids inspire him, and they’re not the only ones encouraging him to dive in each year.

“I love the comradery with the community,” McMahon said. “The local law enforcement that comes out from all different departments.”

He said anticipation is the worst part, but once he was in the water, it was okay.

“You realize what you’re doing it for and why you’re doing it and it’s a great thing,” he added.

He knows it helps thousands of athletes in the state, but it also goes beyond that.

“It helps them so they can learn the confidence they need to succeed in the tough world that we live in,” McMahon said.

Athletes like Hjort are thankful.

“They are challenging us to be good, humble and kind. Our feelings have to be heard,” Hjort said. “That’s why we love to be here.”

On Saturday, the group raised $47,500. There’s still time to donate, and you can click this link to help out.