Polar Plunge to support Special Olympics

Participants endure cold for charitable cause


Peter Sherno

Brave the cold: Polar Plunge participants jump in the near-freezing water to benefit multiple charities Feb. 6 in Maple Grove. Charities include the Special Olympics.

Alec Pittman

Megan Powell, director of the Polar Bear Plunge, watches the faces of participants as they leap into the cold water.

Powell said the Polar Plunge, or Plunge, collects donations to support Special Olympics Minnesota.

“Special Olympics Minnesota provides year-round sports training and competitions for people with intellectual disabilities,” Powell said. “Participants must raise a minimum of $75 to take the Plunge, but the average participant raises over $200. The average donation last year was $40, but donations come in all sizes and they all matter.”

Junior Anya Lindell Paulson said the Polar Plunge supports a great cause.

“I think that it’s super cool. It helps create funding in those departments that might otherwise not be funded,” Lindell Paulson said. “It’s also a fun way to raise money.”

Powell said students should get involved with the Polar Plunge by spreading the word and encouraging others to participate.

“Students should sign up their school, get competitive and challenge other groups within your school, or challenge a neighboring school,” Powell said. “We also have some schools who have set it up that if they hit their fundraising or participation goal, then the principal has to Plunge too.”

Lindell Paulson said her heart would race as she stared at the cold water, but she would end up jumping in.

“I would be terrified but pretty excited because my adrenaline would be going. I would still be scared but it would be fun,” Lindell Paulson said. “Support from friends would be really great to have, too.”

According to Powell, the Plunge represents a unusual experience because it isn’t something done every day.

“It’s a ton of fun — definitely cold — but it’s a short amount of time that you are in the water. There is tons of camaraderie amongst team members, and tons of excitement and anticipation for the big jump,” Powell said. “It’s a one-of-a-kind event and a bucket list for many.”

Junior Hannah Ellingson said she would attempt to influence fellow students to take part in the Plunge with her.

“I would do it with close friends and family members. I would call out my cousins to do it with me,” Ellingson said. “I would challenge more people to do it in order to raise money for a great cause.”

Powell said the location and amount of people determines the outcome of the Plunge.

“Each event varies. We have events as small as 100 plungers in Warroad, all the way up to Minneapolis that has 5,000 plungers,” Powell said. “If you aren’t sure about it, just give it a try — it’s not nearly as tough as you think, and you’ll have so much fun.”

The next Polar Plunge in Minnesota takes place at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 13 in Rochester. Students can sign up on the Minnesota Polar Plunge website at www.plungemn.org, arrive for the Pre-Plunge sign up or register the day of the Plunge. Fundraising money and a signed waiver are required for all participants.