Western’s Alpha Sigma Alpha played a part in raising $18,970 for the Special Olympics by “plunging” into icy water for the third annual Polar Bear Plunge at Lake Contrary last Saturday.
Each Plunger could raise a minimum of $50 to go towards supporting year-round sports training and athletic competition for Special Olympics athletes.
Comprised of new and old members, the sorority was both nervous and excited to make contact with the frigid lake water.
Freshman Carli Wright had never participated in this well-known event, and was concerned about the cold temperature and dirtiness of the water. After jumping in, however, she felt relieved and actually had fun.
“It wasn’t really as cold as I thought it would be,” Wright said.
Nicole Shiflett, an older member, was soaked from head to toe after jumping. She appreciated the 60-degree weather this year’s event brought.
“It was not as cold as last year,” Shiflett said.
For the past couple of years, The Polar Bear Plunge had taken place at Missouri Western. This year, organizers felt it was time for a change. Lake Contrary actually made for a bigger turnout.
Melody Prawitz, the Northwest area director, believes a few factors may have played a part in bringing the 163 registered participants to this event.
“We did a lot more marketing this year, and we changed the location, which is a bigger, nicer location,” Prawitz said.
Participants had the chance to sign up online or the day of the event.
“The cut-off time was right up until 2 p.m.,” Prawitz said.
Another difference between this year and previous years was the amount of group costumes seen. Plungers are encouraged each year to dress up in costumes and they have the opportunity to win prizes for them at the end of the day.
“The costumes are really taking off,” Prawitz said.
All participants dressed in creative costumes in hopes of winning the Golden Plunger Award. Those who were not dressed up and competing still got a kick out of watching their friends, co-workers or family members plunge into the water.
Though temperatures have been colder in the past, Prawitz assured that no one has ever gotten sick or injured.
“We’ve never heard of anybody getting sick, and no one’s ever gotten hurt,” she said. “They don’t have to submerge or anything like that.”
The Polar Bear Plunge is hosted by St. Joseph Police Department and is a project of the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
Plungers will continue to raise funds even after the event has passed. Those interested in making a donation can visit www.somo.org/plunge. There are 13 Plunges throughout Missouri this year.