(Photo courtesy of Special Olympics Michigan)
(Photo courtesy of Special Olympics Michigan)

BY SAMANTHA ELLIOTT, Editor-in-chief

Several UM-Dearborn students took the plunge for charity on Saturday, February 18. The Polar Plunge, held at Milken State Park, gives participants a chance to help raise money for the Special Olympics of Southern Michigan.

The event starts with a parade of participants showing off their costumes with the plunge following at 11:00 a.m. Participants plunge into frigid cold water while hundreds stand watching. After exiting the water, plungers are given towels and an area to change before heading off to the nearby Marriott for free admission to the Post Plunge Party which includes warm food and non alcoholic beverages.

Mike Brennan, a veteran plunger, and Gen Miani both participated in the plunge this year.

Brennan raised $230 from friends and family for this year’s plunge. Several changes in the event, both positive and negative, caught Brennan’s attention. The most noticeable was the fact that there were no hot tubs to warm up before changing like in years past and volunteers were not standing by with towels once you climbed out of the water.

“The water was about ten feet deeper than I thought,” Brennan said. “I was ready to jump in and kick off the bottom to resurface. I was about four feet underwater when I realized that wasn’t going to happen so I had to scramble up.”

According to Brennan, there were volunteers on site handing out free coffee and the number of plungers from the previous years had increased significantly.

Miani and Brennan both spoke of the long wait in the cold before plunging into the freezing waters. Brennan waited in line for forty five minutes before being able to plunge.

Miani thought the cause was great but wasn’t thrilled with the wait.

“It was great to see the big following they have but after waiting in the cold for an hour and a half, it felt like I rode a bike into a concrete wall when I jumped. Next time I’ll just donate,” Maini said.

The plunge is made possible by the Law Enforcement Torch Run, a group of law enforcement officers who are committed to raising awareness for the Special Olympics. The event is known for its interesting costumes and brave individuals who choose to take the plunge. Proceeds go toward year round sports training for more than 20,500 children and adults with intellectual disability in Michigan.

Students interested still have several opportunities to plunge this season. Upcoming cities include Detroit, Holland, Mt. Pleasant, and Grand Rapids. For more information, visit www.firstgiving.com/polarplunge.