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Polar Plungers Take The Plunge

Annual POLAR PLUNGE Raises Money For Special Olympics

February 23, 2013       Leave a Comment
By: Stephen Kent

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Special Olympics held their annual Polar Plunge at Saginaw's Haithco Recreation Area Saturday. Well over a hundred plungers joined the festivities by coming in costume (some noted for their almost lack of a costume) to take a jump into a hole cut in the ice of the frozen lake at the park.

Some people ask "WHY!?!". Even the rescue swimmers, in their cold weather dive suits were "chilly". The plungers were freezing! But this is a signature event for Special Olympics in Michigan and the pain is for a good cause; besides it really is fun for participants.

Plungers were bussed from the Saginaw ISD Transitions Center to the park. From the buses they walked the gauntlet to the lake, where they waited their turn. The loudspeaker announced each team and they trotted across the ice to the platform over the water. Taking a deep breath they leaped into the water. After coming out of the water it was a mad dash for the warming tent.

RUN for that warming tent!
One participant said "It felt like I was in the water forever. I remember thinking I should let my partners climb the ladder out first." Seeing a video of her jump back at the Transition Center, she was amazed at how fast she came up that ladder (the first one by the way) and also at the expletives she was shouting!

Following their watery ordeal, the plungers ran across the ice to the Hazmat warming tent. After a brief moment to regain their composure they were outside again for the 50 yard run to the Mitchell Buses and the trip back to the Transitions Center.

If you can laugh it had to be fun.
The event is a statewide fund raiser for Special Olympics. After free sloppy joes and chicken noodle soup, an awards ceremony was held and a number of trophies from the "Best Plunge" to "Individual Fund Raiser" was held. Master of Ceremonies Bob Chadwick said "You've raised $47,500 for Special Olympics." The top individual fundraiser at the event brought in more than a thousand dollars.

Most plungers had only good things to say. There was lots of laughing and cheering before, during and after the event. "We can't wait for next year" was heard frequently. A number of plungers were already back for their second or third year. Some even make multiple plunges around the state each year.

Participants raised funds for Special Olympics
Everyone gets a t-shirt... long sleeves, of course.
The room was full of costumed warriors during registration.
Participants parade for the judges before heading to the lake.
High Five while you're still warm!
Large crowd of well wishers line the lake shore
Plungers wait in line as previous victim dashes for the warming tent.
A few who tried to dress for the occasion take the walk to the jumping off point.
(Others said that more clothes stayed colder longer)
Judges debate merits out on the lake.
A nice high leap doesn't make it any less cold!
That life guard in the middle may be nooo help at all!
Hold your nose!
If that's Dorothy, there's no Yellow Brick Road here.
Welcome to the warming tent.
Inside the Hazmat warming tent. The young man with the staff looks like he's still dazed.
"Drowned Rats" return to the Transitions Center.
Emily Kent and the trophy for the Best Plunge

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Stephen Kent

Steve Kent and his family have lived in Bay City for 40 years. He is VP of Technical Services at MMCC which produces MyBayCity.Com. Kent is active in many Bay City civic organizations.

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