Polar Plunge a first for Franklin County wheelchair athlete

Smiling young man with a beard and red jacket

Max Damron didn’t need much time to decide that he’d love to splash down in a pool of icy water on a chilly February day. Never mind that he uses a wheelchair and is prone to sinking.

More important, Damron said, is his reasoning: “I am a daredevil, I have a positive attitude, and I’m not afraid to try new things. And I love everything that my Special Olympics team has done for me.”

Damron, 25, is set to become the first Franklin County Flyers wheelchair athlete to take the Columbus Polar Plunge on Feb. 10 at Lower.com field.

Ryan Phillips, Director of Special Olympics, Community Recreation & Aquatics at the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities, said Damron is pretty much fearless. His mom, however, wanted to make sure Phillips had a solid plan for quickly getting her son above the surface after his plunge.

“We’re going to put some really quality safeguards in place,” said Phillips, who also is a lifeguard. “Max can’t wait. He’s just so effervescent in his enthusiasm.”

Making a bit of history while raising money for the Franklin County Special Olympics program is a point of pride for Damron, who competes in bocce and basketball skills for the Flyers. “When I heard that I could be the first athlete in a wheelchair to do the plunge, I was like, heck yeah,” he said. “I know my coaches will have me safe and get me above water.”

Damron enjoys promoting the Flyers and considers himself an ambassador for a program that has helped him become a vocal advocate for people with disabilities. “I want others to have the same opportunities as I do,” he said.

To donate to Damron’s fundraising page benefiting all Franklin County Special Olympics athletes, go to https://give.sooh.org/fundraiser/5145742