Kalamazoo's Polar Plunge was an ice-filled splashing good time
KALAMAZOO, Mich. —
Most people would do a double take if they saw dozens of people willingly jump into a pool filled with ice, but not this time. These jumpers were freezin' for a reason.
“They have a blast,” Grace Maiullo, development and events coordinator of Special Olympics Michigan, said. “We have, I think, 9 of our Special Olympics athletes plunging today. We have four judges from our gymnastics team who will be judging best costume and best plunge so we expect to see people flaunting it today.”
And flaunt it they did.
Attending this year’s Polar Plunge was Elsa of Disney’s “Frozen”, who lost her braid, numerous Wonder Women, and some of those who made the biggest splash were wearing the least of all.
In the end it was all worth it, because the money raised goes to Special Olympics and its athletes.
“Through things like this where we're raising money, they can join our program and not have it cost them one cent. Whatever they need, we'll get for them,” Mike Bielski, assistant area director for Kalamazoo/Calhoun County Special Olympics, said.
There are 28 Polar Plunges across the state this year, the funds raised go towards year-round training and sports competitions for more than 23,000 children and adults in Michigan with intellectual disabilities.
“Businesses like [Bell’s Brewery], there's a lot of businesses in the Kalamazoo area that do a lot for us. We live in a great community and they support us whole-heartedly. We couldn't do what we do without things like this,” Bielski said.
Despite the frigid temperatures, you'll be hard pressed to find someone who didn't enjoy this experience.
“Very, very, very cold. They threw ice right before I went in, but it was fun. It was worth it,” one plunger said.
The totals are still being tallied, but our own Andy Pepper was the top fundraiser, bringing in more than $3,800 for Special Olympics.
The Michigan State Police 5th District was the top fundraising team, raising nearly $3,700.