Polar Plungers Raise Thousands for Special Olympics

By KBJR News 1

February 19, 2011 Updated Feb 19, 2011 at 11:38 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's Newscenter)---That's what more than 800 brave souls plunged feet first into the freezing waters of Lake Superior for the Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday.

It's February and it's Duluth and it's the 12th year the city has hosted a Polar Plunge Event in the thick of winter.

The jumpers took different approaches. Some people stripped down wearing only their swimsuits others wore as much clothing as possible for the jump.

"It just feels like something is stabbing you," said plunger Dana Hanson. "The shock of the water is crazy but it is for really good cause. It feels better now that you're out, but the instant shock is bad."

Another plunger had the opposite reaction after the jump.

"It's not bad actually," said Dana Jensen. "This is the first time I did it, and I liked it. I'll do it again, I drove 400 miles for this."

Baring the frigid waters of Lake Superior was all for a good cause. Money raised at the event will directly benefit special Olympic athletes in Duluth.

This year, the city of Duluth double dog–dared the city of St. Cloud to raise money.

Students from UMD and St. Cloud State took on the top dog challenge

Over 31 Teams and 169 pledgers from UMD signed up for the first ever top dog challenge event.

The school who raises the most money for the special Olympics will be awarded the Top Dog Challenge trophy.

"It was pretty easy, people love helping out," said plunger Jared Vincent. I just sent out an e–mail to all my relatives. We went to our professors and family and friends. Everyone is willing to put out a bit of money for a good cause."

The event is put on by Minnesota Law enforcement and local businesses.

"The majority of the money goes to Special Olympics athletes in our area. It helps with year round things such as bowling, weight lifting, time in the gym but it also helps the state with their overall state program," said organizer Gayle Holton.

This year the plunge raised $142-thousand dollars.

Fourteen other plunges took place across the state of Minnesota.

Written and posted to the web: Jennifer Walch