Polar Plunge gets ready to make waves on Saturday

Super Plungers begin dives Friday, Polar Strut set for Saturday morning

School of the Osage raised nearly $3,000 as part of the “Cool School” part of the 2011 Polar Plunge and these Osage faculty enjoy plunging with their students. In addition, School of the Osage “KISS” faculty won first place in the Golden Plunger for the school division last year. They are running into the chilly waters of Public Beach No. 2 during last year’s event.

School of the Osage raised nearly $3,000 as part of the “Cool School” part of the 2011 Polar Plunge and these Osage faculty enjoy plunging with their students. In addition, School of the Osage “KISS” faculty won first place in the Golden Plunger for the school division last year. They are running into the chilly waters of Public Beach No. 2 during last year’s event. Photo by Samantha Edmondson.

The 17th annual Lake of Ozarks Polar Plunge will be held Saturday at Lake of the Ozarks State Park, Public Beach no. 2 in Osage Beach. To become a Polar Plunge participant you can register on-line prior to the event, however, registration will also be open the day of the event.

Last February, the Annual Polar Plunge saw the greatest number of participants, with 610 plungers, and a little more than $200,000 was raised for the SOMO, another record at the Lake.

According to Crystal Chalk, Central Area Associate Area Director for SOMO, the Lake of the Ozarks ranks second in the state for fundraising and participation.

The Polar Plunge is a unique opportunity for individuals, organizations and businesses to support SOMO athletes by collecting pledges and donations for being brave to jump into the frigid icy waters of Missouri in the middle of winter.

Chalk said the best part about this event is seeing everyone’s faces as they run into the water.

“They are all so excited, and then they hit that cold water! The excitement doesn’t leave their faces, but the shock of the cold hits them and their surprised look mixed with the excitement is great,” she explained.

All funds raised at the Polar Plunge, Polar Bear Strut, Super Plunge and Cops on Tops goes to support the more that 15,000 Special Olympics athletes in Missouri. It provides them opportunities for sports training and competition at area, district, regional, and state levels.

Registration will be held from noon-2 p.m. the day of the event. A Parade of Costumes will start the event at 2 p.m. and plunging begins at 2:30 p.m. for the multiple heats. A post-party will take place from 4-7 p.m. at Tan-Tar-A Resort.

This year’s fundraising goal for the entire Lake of the Ozarks division is $175,000. Plungers who raise more than the minimum can earn prizes for their efforts. Visit www.somo.org/lozplunge for a list of prizes.

Prizes will also be awarded to the top fundraising school, team, law enforcement and individual. Teams can also win for having the largest group. The Golden Plunger (best costume) will be awarded to the top three in each category for school, team, law enforcement and individual.

The Polar Bear Strut is an "unbearable" event for individuals, organizations and businesses to support SOMO athletes by running, walking or "strutting" through the Lake of the Ozarks. The 5K course, which begins at Osage Beach City Hall, is a very challenging course.

Participants can register online and create a fundraising page. This page can also be emailed to family and friends to collect safe and secure donations. Then, participants can come out on plunge day to take a quick jog in the frigid winter air.

Registration for the Polar Bear Strut will be held from 8-9:30 a.m. on Feb. 25. The Strut begins at 10 a.m.

The Polar Bear Strut is open to anyone. Strollers and dogs are welcome. Strutters who raise more than the minimum of $50 can earn cool prizes.

For a list of prizes and registration, visit www.somo.org/strut or contact the Special Olympics Missouri at 1-800-846-2682 or Diane Brimer at 573-256-6367 or email dbrimer@somo.org.

For more information about the Polar Plunge, contact the Special Olympics Missouri at 1-800-846-2682 or Crystal Chalk at 573-256-6367.

Dianne Steingrubey contributed to this article.

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