Students dive into chilly Polar Plunge
Supply chain management sophomore Jane Baxter gets back on dry land with the help of underwater rescue team members during Lansing Polar Plunge, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, at Eagle Eye Golf Club in Bath, Mich. The event was a charity drive to raise money for Special Olympics Michigan.
As a stiff breeze rolled in across the snow-covered Eagle Eye Golf Course, more than 100 people stood around a hole cut in the ice of one of the course’s many water hazards, patiently waiting for the show to begin.
Inside a nearby building, merry chaos reigned as superheroes mingled with beauty pageant contestants and video game characters chatted with police officers. Eventually, they formed what could generously be called a line and began to file out to the hole in the ice.
About 400 people from Lansing-area businesses and law enforcement — including MSU police — MSU fraternities and sororities and others who wanted to participate took the Polar Plunge in support of the Special Olympics.
Sunday marked the ninth-annual Polar Plunge, which started as an opportunity for Lansing-area law enforcement to contribute to the Special Olympics. The event has been copied by police across the country — although mostly in colder areas — but Lansing was “one of the very first,” said Val Suszko, a member of the five-person committee that plans and organizes the event.
Suszko said the event began as a creative way to help local law enforcement raise money for the Special Olympics.
Lansing resident Tim Schmitt rushes back to the changing room after his turn at Lansing Polar Plunge, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, at Eagle Eye Golf Club in Bath, Mich. The event was a charity drive to raise money for Special Olympics.
Spectators watch as participants jump into the icy water during Lansing Polar Plunge, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, at Eagle Eye Golf Club in Bath, Mich. The event was a charity drive to raise money for Special Olympics.
Rainbow Homes programs facilitator Shannon Shaw helps Lansing resident Evan Booker, 10, to dry up after Booker left the icy water during Lansing Polar Plunge, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, at Eagle Eye Golf Club in Bath, Mich. The event was a charity drive to raise money for Special Olympics.
“We just thought it sounded like fun,” she said, smiling. “And it lets us enjoy the cool temperatures (of winter in Michigan).”
As of the first plunge Sunday, the event had raised about $46,000, and Suszko said more might still be raised. Last year, the event featured 365 registered plungers and raised about $60,000, she said.
Ovid, Mich., resident Misty White was present with her two children to support her husband, Ed, as he took the plunge dressed as a Hooters waitress. This year marked the third or fourth time the Whites attended the Polar Plunge, Misty White said, adding she likes coming out for them.
“It’s fun to see all the different costumes,” she said.
Last year, Ed White and his friends — Brian Powe of DeWitt, Mich., and Doug Buxton of Lansing — dressed up as characters from the movie “Despicable Me,” Misty White said.
Supply chain management sophomore Reilly Quigley, who took the plunge on behalf of the MSU chapter of Theta Chi, said he enjoyed his dip into the frigid water.
“It was so worth it,” he said. “It’s a great cause. Why not make a splash for a great cause?”
Quigley was among the first of many to opt for a belly flop rather than a less spectacular method of entry.
“I thought I’d change it up a bit,” he said with a broad smile. “I’m not even cold!”