Cold day for Plunge: 19 brave the waterTemperatures in the low 40s with 15-plus mph wind gusts made Saturday’s sixth annual Jamestown Polar Plunge feel much like the bitter cold of the inaugural plunge.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
Temperatures in the low 40s with 15-plus mph wind gusts made Saturday’s sixth annual Jamestown Polar Plunge feel much like the bitter cold of the inaugural plunge.
Jamestown was the first North Dakota city to host a Polar Plunge, beginning in 2007 when participants plunged into a large hole that was cut into the Jamestown Reservoir.
“That water is plenty cold, let me tell you,” said Ben Kennelly, trooper with the North Dakota Highway Patrol and one of 19 total plungers this year.
Kennelly, who helped organize the event at the Larson Center/YMCA on the Jamestown College campus, said plungers collected a minimum of $75 each in pledges to benefit Special Olympics North Dakota.
Some plungers exceeded the $75 minimum for an average of about $100 per plunger, totaling approximately $1,900 for the cause.
An official count on the money collected from fundraising, food sales, donations and T-shirt sales will be released later this week.
All proceeds from the event go directly to SOND, a nonprofit organization dedicating to helping people with intellectual disabilities become physically fit and productive members of society through sports competition.
There are a little less than 200 athletes in Stutsman County who benefit from Special Olympics, according to Don Redmann, warden at the James River Correctional Center.
Redmann has helped in different capacities with the event since its inception and was one of three judges for this year’s plunge along with Jamestown Police Department Chief Scott Edinger and former Jamestown College head football coach Bud Etzold.
“There’s really no more worthwhile cause than helping out at an event like this,” Etzold said. “Special Olympics is a great organization and these athletes never cease to amaze me. They’re some of the most optimistic people I’ve ever been around.”
Edinger, who is in his fourth year helping out with the plunge in Jamestown after serving as a rescue diver for previous plunges, said the event is an improvement over years past.
“They’ve done a great job putting all this together,” he said. “Raising money for this cause is just fantastic because it provides so many opportunities for these athletes to compete.”
SOND athletes like Blaine Schulz of Jamestown were excited to be there.
“It’s a great year for Special Olympics and we really appreciate everything from the community,” he said.
Schulz competes in track and field, swimming and bocce ball and was the first brave soul to plunge into the chilly swimming pool on Saturday.
Fellow plunger and Jamestown College student Logan Caldwell said jumping into the water was an “invigorating” feeling.
“This was my first year plunging and I was actually expecting a nice day out, but that’s OK,” he said.
Caldwell was sponsored by Jamestown Ambulance through its $75 donation and said he looks forward to participating in the event again next year.
“I’m probably just going to need to gain a year of courage to get back in that water,” he said.
Awards for youngest plunger, oldest plunger and best costume were handed out. The day’s top honor of “Polar King,” handed out to the plunger who raised the most funds, was given to Ben Kennelly’s 11-year old son, Carson.
The Jamestown plunge was the last in a series of three Polar Plunges across the state this month, with others hosted in Fargo and Grand Forks.
This year marks the 40-year celebration of Special Olympics in North Dakota.
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at bwill email@example.com