If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you? What if it was your coworkers and it was into a frozen lake? Peer pressure, I learned, never really goes away.
When I first started at IWCO Direct in the summer, I was told about the Polar Bear Plunge. It’s an event where people form teams, raise money, then jump into a frozen lake sometime between January and March, when Minnesota is at its most punishing. I laughed and said ‘sure!’ when they asked if I would join the IWCO Direct team. I didn’t think they’d actually remember I had agreed when the time came. But, in addition to being extremely talented and lovely human beings, the people I work with have impeccable memories.
They didn’t let up when I tried to back out. It was like living in the episode of Full House when DJ is coaxed into drinking, but in my scenario it was plunging into freezing waters for charity. In the end, I signed up. Clearly, I learned nothing from Danny Tanner on how to avoid peer pressure.
It will be fun
Even though we don’t plunge until this weekend, being a Plunger has already been pretty fun. We’ve had a bake sale (I made cupcakes) and have been planning costumes for the big moment. Some people go to extremes with wigs and rubber-ducky water wings, others create team uniforms. I have an outfit planned, but I won’t spoil the big reveal. If you’re dying to know, come watch the team at 2:00 p.m. this Saturday at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis—I’ll be the one shivering.
Everyone is doing it
The Polar Bear Plunge has been gaining momentum over the past few years. When the first plunge took place at Como Lake in 1998, it had 65 participants who raised $20,000. Now in its 17th year, 14,763 people are currently registered to take the plunge in 17 locations across Minnesota.
The Chanhassen IWCO Direct team alone has more than 40 employees ready to dive into those frigid waters this Saturday, myself included. When we arrive at Lake Calhoun, we will meet the 3,900-some other plungers (also known as lunatics) and total our fundraising efforts.
What’s the worst that can happen?
Or, in this case, what’s the best that can happen?
The Polar Bear Plunge benefits Special Olympics of Minnesota. This remarkable organization strives for a global movement in which every person is accepted and welcomed regardless of ability or disability. They’re doing this by using sports and athletics to provide health and leadership programs to children and adults with intellectual disabilities year-round. The money we raise by plunging goes to further these programs and create a more encompassing community for individuals with disabilities.
Right now, our event has raised $642,020. Of that, IWCO Direct has contributed $21,847. That’s a pretty impressive number, but we can do better. Our goal is $29,700. It’ll be tight, but we still have time to make it. If you’re feeling particularly sympathetic to our soon-to-be frozen selves, you can warm our hearts by donating to this worthy cause. Check out our Plunge Page for more information.
Weather predictions are currently saying that Saturday will sport a high temperature of zero. Brrring it on.