President plunges for Special Olympics Arkansas

02-17-2016-2294February 16, 2016

University President Bruce McLarty plunged into the fountain in front of the McInteer Bible and World Missions Center on campus Feb. 17 at 10:55 a.m. as a part of the Special Olympics Arkansas Polar Plunge.

“Special Olympics is a cause that everyone can get behind,” McLarty said. “The water was shockingly cold in the fountain, but having a great crowd from both Harding and the Searcy community made it all a lot of fun.”

The Polar Plunge is a Special Olympics Arkansas fundraiser where individuals and teams jump into various bodies of cold water to raise money and awareness for the organization. Events are held across the state Feb. 18-March 12.

Special Olympics athletes from the Sunshine School came to campus to watch McLarty plunge into the cold McInteer fountain in addition to members of Northstar EMS, Searcy fire department, Searcy police department, White County Sheriff’s Office and Special Olympics Arkansas.

“I was especially touched by the Sunshine School’s basketball team who came to share in the event,” McLarty said. “I am grateful to all who gave to this fund raising project, to all who came to share in that frigid moment at the fountain, and to Lisa Bryant, who does such a wonderful job of keeping Special Olympics in front of the Harding community.”

Members of the Cannon-Clary College of Education’s service organization, S.A.L.T. (Scholars Advancing Learning and Teaching), held a bake sale in the University’s student center Feb. 11. McLarty said he would take the plunge if the organization accepted his challenge to raise at least $500. Assistant Professor of Education Lisa Bryant, S.A.L.T. sponsor, said the bake sale raised $606, and Harding has collectively raised more than $1,200 so far this year for Special Olympics Arkansas.

“As a former special education teacher, I have been a coach, a coordinator, a volunteer and a ‘plunger’ for 15 years,” Bryant said. “My sons and I have plunged together since they were in elementary school. It is kind of a family event.”

The official Searcy event takes place on Saturday, Feb. 20. A Harding team, which includes players on the University football team and students, faculty and staff from the College of Education and the department of communication sciences and disorders, will join others in Searcy to take the plunge at the Econo Lodge Inn and Suites. For more information, contact Bryant at

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