Saturday marked the sixth year that IWCO Direct employees braved the frigid waters of Thomas Beach on Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis for the Polar Plunge. Although the temperatures for the event reached an unseasonal 39 degrees, the water itself, as any of our 47 plungers will assure you, wasn’t as mild.
Even for plunging veterans, it’s never a pleasant dip in the water. “There’s always a teeny tiny bit of anxiety that builds up,” Sarah Shea, IWCO Direct account manager, Polar Plunge team captain, 2016 featured plunger, and proud mother of a Special Olympics participant says. “Your toes go over the edge, and you think, ‘Here we go,’ and the shock of the water literally takes your breath away. You get out and you think, ‘Never again.’”
But that moment of pure self-loathing in the water is somehow eclipsed by the year that follows, and plungers return for another round of punishment. This year, more than 3,000 individuals signed up for the Minneapolis Polar Plunge alone. Add that number to the 20 other events that take place across Minnesota and you end up with well over 13,700 participants. That’s a lot of people fundraising in one state for one cause.
The $32,147 in Polar Plunge donations raised by IWCO Direct plungers—every penny of it—goes toward programming and events for more than 8,100 athletes statewide with Special Olympics Minnesota. And we’re just one team from one event. With four plunging events left to go, the 2016 Polar Plunge has raised $2,993,106 for the year-round sports training and competition that provides athletic, health and leadership programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
“Special Olympics Minnesota is a solid organization that everyone is familiar with,” Sarah explains. “There are so many great causes out there, but many people have a personal connection Special Olympics. They have a cousin or nephew who is an athlete or they know someone who volunteers.”
Sarah says that she had never imagined the Polar Plunge to become so widely popular with her colleagues, but now that it has, she credits the success to the fact that “the Polar Plunge is just super fun and it’s really touched a nerve with people.”
Congratulations to all our plungers for surviving another year of cannon balls, belly flops and freezing waters.
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