Polar Plunge gives new meaning to “go jump in a lake”

Courtesy of Sue Cunningham

Galen Alaks, Layout Editor

Jumping in a lake in below-freezing weather. Typically, these two things are not said in the same sentence let alone the same paragraph. But they can very well be said in the same sentence when you or someone you know is participating in the Polar Plunge.

Like me.

The Polar Plunge, which took place February 21, involves people jumping into the cold waters of Lake Michigan or another body of water to raise money for Special Olympics.  For a variety of reasons, including having an SO relative, wanting to do something for a good cause, and knowing others doing the plunge, I joined.

Every member of the Polar Plunge commits to raising $75 to participate and to receive a free matching sweatshirt.  So many people were eager to have me jump into a really cold lake that I raised my goal in under a day.  RB raised $2000 together, which was double its original goal.

The Plunge took place at Northwestern Beach.  The temperature of the day was 29 degrees Farenheit (-1.7 Celsius), warmer than the surrounding days.

I was surprised by the turnout.  Tons of people attended, wearing everything from swimsuits to waterproof cameras on their heads and chests to nothing but a tutu.  The event was great because no one cared how they looked or how far into the water they went.

Everyone was working towards the game goal:  supporting Special Olympics.

The Plunge was cold, of course, but also fun.  When you think about it, people in Special Olympics have challenges that they face every day.  The Polar Plunge lasts for less than a minute.  And while you may be numb or sick for a while, it is nothing compared to some of the difficulties others have to face.  Doing the Plunge does not make me brave in any way.  The brave ones are the ones I was plunging for.

Clarion readers, take the Plunge next year if you are able and spread the word to others to boost the turnout.  Try something new, help Special Olympics, and get a free sweatshirt!