Polar Plunge: 25 brave icy waterSnow was in the air as 25 souls braved 20-degree weather to plunge into the icy waters of the Jamestown Reservoir for Saturday’s fourth annual Polar Plunge, Freezin’ for a Reason, a fundraiser for the Special Olympics.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Snow was in the air as 25 souls braved 20-degree weather to plunge into the icy waters of the Jamestown Reservoir for Saturday’s fourth annual Polar Plunge, Freezin’ for a Reason, a fundraiser for the Special Olympics.
Plungers dressed as penguins, the Blue Brothers, a chicken, the Ghost Busters and Slimer and other characters faced the elements, jumped in and swam across near freezing water to awaiting blankets and warming houses.
“This is more fun out here, last year we did it in a Dumpster,” said Kevin Arthaud, event organizer.
The event was moved last year due to heavy snowfall and held in a parking lot, where plungers jumped into a Dumpster instead of the reservoir.
Weather was a factor this year as well as snowy road conditions kept would be plungers away, Arthaud said.
The 25 plungers were the lowest amount in the event’s four year history. The $4,700 raised is also a low, he said.
“Even though we didn’t raise what we hoped for, it was still a success,” Arthaud said.
Awards given out at the event include Arthaud for whitest legs, Jared Johnson, Dylan Werkenthein Jacob Miller and Seth Johnson for best costume (the Ghost Busters), Everett Komsosky for youngest plunger, and Sheila Ova for oldest. Ova also raised the most money of all the women with $751.
Denny Waltz and Jim Vollrath tied for most money raised for men with $800. Vollrath was No. 19 to jump, while Waltz had his “Denny’s Angels,” a group of three women who all had worked at the All Vets Club, jump for him.
“I did it two years in a row and I told them how fun it is,” Waltz said.
The trio of first-time plungers were a bit nervous before their plunge but happy to help.
“It’s for a good cause and you know what? It’s good to try new things,” said Shelby Wilson, one of the “Angels.”
Other plungers like Duane Irish and his son Michael Irish donned penguin attire at the insistence of Duane’s wife.
“I don’t mind making a fool of myself in front of people,” Duane Irish said.
While he was nervous about making it across the water Irish was also happy to help raise money for the Special Olympics.
“The way I look at this, it brings the community together,” he said. “It’s fun but it brings attention to a really good cause.”
Many plungers and volunteers were employees at the James River Correctional Center, where Arthaud is the chief of security.
Special Olympics is the charity of choice for law enforcement across the nation, and other states in warmer parts of the country run into the ocean in January to raise money, Arthaud said.
Fargo and Grand Forks recently started Polar Plunges but plungers jump into Dumpsters instead of a lake, he said.
“This is the only true Polar Plunge in the state,” Arthaud said.
The prep work to make the only true Polar Plunge was a large task. Snow had to be removed from the ice and then a chainsaw was used to cut out 10 blocks of ice weighing 2,500 pounds each that were lifted out with heavy equipment, he said.
The falling snow caused more trouble as drivers had a difficult time getting off the ice.
Vollrath was one of five men helping to push cars that had trouble getting onto the road. His reason for helping push is his same reason plunging.
“No one else is going to do it, you got to do it yourself,” he said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455
or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org