24 take the Polar PlungePublished 8:41pm Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Heavy snow and frigid temperatures couldn’t keep 24 brave souls from helping Michigan Special Olympics raise money Saturday at Pleasant Lake in Edwardsburg.
According to Bob Newton, there were 24 participants in the third annual Polar Plunge. They helped raise approximately $4,200 for Special Olympics.
In the three-year span, the Polar Plunge has drawn 80 plungers and has now raised over $21,000.
“That’s pretty good for just three years,” Newton, one of the event organizers said.
The first year of the “plunge” drew 17 participants and raised $6,000. Last year the number of participants more than doubles with 39 taking part. They raised $11,000.
Newton said that the weather conditions didn’t play much of a factor into the event.
“They pretty much made up their minds that they were going to do it,” he said. “We didn’t have anyone chicken out.”
The weather has been anything but predictable this year, but there was no concern about the ice.
Last year there wasn’t enough ice to walk out to a hole cut by the Edwardsburg Fire Department, so participants had to run in and take the plunge. This year the fire department cut a 16 by 16 (foot) hole through four inches of ice.
“It’s always a concern,” Newton said about the safety of the ice. “At 6 p.m. the night before, we make the decision to run in our cut a hole.”
The Edwardsburg Fire Department and ambulance crews are always on hand as is the Cass County Sheriff’s office dive crew to help out with any emergency situation.
While there are numerous individuals and groups that help out, Newton said the Lions Club stepped up in a big way this year.
“If it wasn’t for these kinds of people, we couldn’t pull this off,” he said. “We had four full-fledged Lions take the plunge and we had about 20 of the Leos on hand to help out wherever they could. They were looking for things to do.”
Newscenter 16 reporter Gabby Gonzalez took the plunge for the second year in a row, while Jesse Binns was the participant who traveled the furthest to compete. He came down from Lansing where he is attending the State Police Academy to take part.
Newton wanted to thank numerous groups and individuals for helping with the event, including the Edwardsburg emergency services, the Lions Club, the Edwardsburg Public Schools, hopeunlimited.org, the Village of Edwardsburg, Fireside Bar & Grill and Tom Hartsell.
“We are already looking forward to doing it again next year,” Newton said.