Care and Compassion Combat the Cold

By Sam Kilgard —


Usually jumping into a frozen lake would be looked upon as crazy, but when the Polar Plunge comes to town, that’s exactly what hundreds of slightly crazy people can’t wait to do. It’s a good crazy, seeing as though they’re willing to bear the elements for a great cause: raising money for local and statewide Special Olympic athletes.


The first jump was held on Lake Onalaska in 1999. The occasion was a major success, with 315 jumpers and over $30,000 raised. Since then, plunging has become a juggernaut fundraising event that occurs nationwide.


The Plunge has made its way out to Menomonie for the past seven years and has been growing every year.


“Last year we had 250 people come out and raised $56,000, this year our goal is to break the 300 mark and raise $62,000,” said Karen Kraus, Director of Development for Special Olympics Wisconsin. “A $75 minimum must be raised in order to jump, but we also accept donations from those who do not wish to plunge.” Karen stressed the fact that people do not need to jump if they don’t want to, their donations will still be welcomed and accepted.


The event has grown every single year for a multitude of reasons, but, according to Kraus, the community itself has been a major factor.


“The people at this event are here to have a good time and support a great cause. Our volunteers would truly give the shirt off their back to help someone,” said Kraus.


The event benefits 1,000 local and 10,000 statewide athletes every year. Whether it’s 20 degrees or 20 below zero the, Polar Bear Plunge and its volunteers will be jumping strong.


The Menomonie Plunge will be hosted at the Elk Point Resort. It starts at 12p.m. on February 13, and will continue until 2:30. The Polar Plunge will also stop in Eau Claire on February 28.


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