Polar Plunge sets fundraising recordLunacy and philanthropy combined Saturday to earn nearly $27,000 for Special Olympics at the 2011 Polar Plunge.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Lunacy and philanthropy combined Saturday to earn nearly $27,000 for Special Olympics at the 2011 Polar Plunge.
“It was great day. We actually raised $10,000 more from this event than we ever have before,” said state Special Olympics representative Todd Bradwisch of Harrisburg.
Spectators lined up outside Jackpot Gamblin’ on Main Street to cheer on about 35 jumpers who braved single-digit temperatures and frigid waters to honor their end of pledges they collected for the fund-raiser.
Saturday’s plunge was held on Main Street outside Jackpot Gamblin’ instead of at the traditional venue, Cabela’s Pond.
Participants requested the change, Bradwisch said.
“People wanted to have a little cleaner water to jump in, so we decided to bring it downtown,” Bradwisch said.
The new plunge was into a metal trash bin filled with about 6 feet of near-freezing water. To avoid creating a giant ice cube tray, organizers waited until the last possible minute to fill the metal container.
Bradwisch said the water was 45 degrees by the time workers finished filling the metal tank at 8:30 a.m. By 2 p.m. it was snowing, the air temperature was 8 degrees and water temperature had fallen to 38 degrees.
With its in-and-out wooden staircases, the contraption gave the appearance of one part scaffold and one part sheep dip.
The costumed jumpers gave contributors their money’s worth.
In keeping with the NFL playoffs, husband and wife Scott and Robin Hohn of Parkston wore Brett Favre and Aaron Packer Green Bay Packer jerseys.
Lori Korbe, also of Parkston, was dressed as Cupid, complete with bow and arrow. “I jumped for my son Michael and raised $260 for the Parkston team,” she said.
Joe Mielke, of Mitchell, sported a wrestler’s mask and cape as “NotJoe Libre” and took the plunge with a flying leap. He was the only participant who carried a waterproof camera into the water, which he used to take photos of Mitchell firefighters Tom Schaffner and Capt. Steve Nedved.
The pair had donned “dry” survival suits and worked retrieval duty in the near-freezing water.
Mielke, who works as a project coordinator at KlockWerks, said he collected $3,800 in pledges from friends and business associates.
The baptismal assembly line moved in fits and starts. Some volunteers viewed the freezing water with trepidation, while others wasted little time plunging in.
Reactions to the icy water, however, were remarkable in their uniformity.
No matter how talkative jumpers may have been before they hit the water, all vocalizations ceased when they broke the surface. Instead, jaws dropped, eyes widened, pupils dilated and there was an immediate gasp for air — once gasping became possible.
Then came a desperate scramble for the exit stairs. Most exiting participants were barely able to pronounce their names when asked.
All quickly changed clothing and gathered for lunch and a warm drink after the plunge.
The money raise by the event will be split between the Mitchell Area Special Olympics and Parkston Area Special Olympics, Bradwisch said.