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Warm hearts triumph at Woodbury Polar Plunge

Members of Woodbury’s Blazing Stars Special Olympics team stayed warm by dancing to the music playing at Carver Lake during the Feb. 14 Polar Bear Plunge. 2 / 12
Getting ready to run out as part of the first group to jump are Woodbury Police officers Tony Ofstead and Scott Melander. The duo were part of the committee that organized Woodbury’s first-ever Polar Plunge fundraiser to benefit Special Olympics Minnesota. 3 / 12
The jump into the 30-degree water wasn’t so bad – it was the cold, 7-degree high temperature that came as a bit of a shock for many of the participants of Woodbury’s first-ever Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser for Special Olympics Minnesota.4 / 12
Woodbury Fire Chief Todd Johnson and Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens cringed as they hit the water at Carver Lake. The lake’s temperature was about 30 degrees. 5 / 12
Family and friends of the Millington family, founders of Madison Claire Foundation, dressed up as bottles of Sriracha sauce for their plunge.6 / 12
City council member Christopher Burns embraced the opportunity to participate in the Polar Plunge. 7 / 12
The Woodbury Royal Ambassadors hit the water together. 8 / 12
Everyone who participated in the Polar Plunge was a super hero -- some just decided to really get into the spirit of the moment.9 / 12
Members of Woodbury’s Blazing Stars Special Olympics team stayed warm by dancing to the music playing at Carver Lake during the Feb. 14 Polar Bear Plunge. 10 / 12
Spectators were bundled up in parkas, blankets and more, all so they could stay warm while cheering on the Polar Plunge participants. 11 / 12
Almost last, but certainly not least, members of the Woodbury High School Royals football team took the plunge.12 / 12

Warm hearts triumphed over the cold weather, as more than 550 people took part in Woodbury’s first-ever Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser for Minnesota Special Olympics on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14.

Held at Carver Lake, Woodbury’s Polar Plunge drew almost double the number of participants planners had originally hoped to attract. As this was a first-time event, organizers figured about 300 people would join in, but that goal was passed early on as more and more people signed up to participate.

Kayte Barton was one happy lady on Saturday. As a Special Olympics athlete, she’s participated in Polar Bear Plunges around the state of Minnesota in the past, but all of her previous 10 jumps had been at locations around the state. Finally, Barton, a member of Woodbury’s Blazing Stars team, got to take the plunge in her hometown.

“I’ve been trying for 18 years to get it into Woodbury,” Barton said. “This is my own way I can give back to an organization that means so much to me.”

The Blazing Stars team brought in approximately $7,000 in contributions to Special Olympics Minnesota. Of that, Barton raised about $1,500.

On Feb. 16, Special Olympics Minnesota Marketing and Communications Specialist Taylor Dale said the early tally shows that Woodbury’s first Plunge netted more than $89,000.

A portion of the funds raised will be donated to the Madison Claire Foundation, to assist in funding the 15,000-square-foot, fully accessible playground, Madison’s Place, proposed for construction on the south side of the Bielenberg Sports Center’s field house.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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