Polar Plunge supports Special Olympics

Several Eau Claire students who studied abroad together and became friends in Australia last semester will reunite Sunday to partake in the Polar Plunge.

Polar Plunge
Time: Noon to 3 p.m.
Date: Sunday
Place: Half Moon Beach,
Carson Park

Many students and other Eau Claire residents will jump into Half Moon Lake in Carson Park Sunday to support the Special Olympics’ largest fund-raising effort.

The event is an annual fund-raiser for Special Olympics in Wisconsin and takes place at locations all over the state. Participants collect pledges in exchange for jumping into icy waters.

Many join together to do the plunge as a group, just as the students who were in Australia are doing.

Junior Emily Miller, who spent last semester in Australia, said she wasn’t sure whether she would be doing the plunge if the idea hadn’t been brought up by the group.

“I will go to extremes to hang out with the friends I met in Australia,” Miller said, “even jump in a lake in the middle of winter.”

The bond formed between the Eau Claire students who met a world away is apparent even after the students have returned home.

“The Polar Plunge is probably gonna be just as exhilarating as many things we did (while studying abroad), whether it was bungee jumping in New Zealand or skydiving over Byron Bay,” sophomore Andy Rohloff said. “Many crazy things help you to create the best friendships.”

Senior Jon Negro, who did the plunge last year and will do it again this year with the students he met in Australia, said that the air will be colder than the water and it affects you on the way out.

Negro, organizer of the Australia plunge group, said he has about 10 plunge participants right now and many potential spectators.

“I remember everyone being a lot tougher when we were in Australia,” Negro said.

Andrea Sullivan, director of Development and Volunteers for Special Olympics Wisconsin, said the Polar Plunge event has been progressively growing since it started four years ago. Last year, the event raised about $68,000 for Special Olympics, she said.

Plungers are reminded to bring footwear for the water, but wetsuits are not permitted. Plungers must get their hair wet, and no diving is allowed.

Pre-registration will take place on from 4-7 p.m. Saturday at two Hardee’s locations, 1000 W. Clairemont Ave. and 2933 Western Ave. Plungers also can register at 11 a.m. Sunday at Half Moon Beach. The plunge will run from noon to 3 p.m.