THUMBS UP: Some 10,000 hearty, swim-suited souls plunged into the chilly Chesapeake Bay over three days last week to help fund Special Olympics Maryland and the nearly 8,000 athletes in the state who compete in Special Olympics. The Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge was held Jan. 25 and many from Carroll were more than happy to take the plunge. Jeffrey Spaulding, chief of the Westminster Police Department, has worked the entire week of the Polar Bear Plunge for 20 years. The veteran police chief, who will retire in March, has had the opportunity to meet many Special Olympics athletes over the years and told us, “There’s so many ways that we’re alike and so few ways we’re different. I think if more people got the chance to spend time with athletes, they would realize that as well.” Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees doesn’t plunge himself but is active in other events that benefit SOMD, like Cops on Rooftops. He said his deputies and trainees participate in the plunge and other events, beyond their own altruistic sense, because they know Special Olympics Maryland is important to DeWees. Law enforcement raises roughly half of the Special Olympics Maryland funds each year, Spaulding said. That money allows the majority of athletes to participate in the games without costing their families a dime, he added. The Polar Bear Plunge had raised about $2.1 million by Friday, Feb. 1.