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Prepare for Polar Plunge Feb. 13

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As far as first-time Special Olympics Minnesota Polar Plunge events go, Woodbury’s exceeded expectations in 2015. Typically, first-time plunges draw 100 to 200 participants. Woodbury’s drew nearly 600.

So looking ahead a few weeks from now, organizers for the 2016 Polar Plunge are hoping to bring in even more — as in, at least 700 “plungers,” if not more.

Special Olympics Minnesota’s Megan Powell thinks that goal — and the goal of exceeding last year’s $105,000 in donations collected — is completely doable. By the end of last week, nearly 300 people had signed up for the Feb. 13 Polar Plunge, and there’s still three weeks to register.

To help make that happen, Woodbury’s event is featuring a couple of new events.

This year, kids, ages 10 and younger, can take a dip in cool water by participating in the new PeeWee Plunge. Participants ride down a slide and land in a pool of water. Kids only have to raise $50 to participate, instead of the minimum $75 regular plungers are asked to raise. Those who meet the goal receive a free T-shirt, and become eligible for additional prizes if they collect more than the entry amount.

The PeeWee Plunge is something that has only been done at the Minneapolis Polar Plunge in the past, Powell said. Because it’s new to Woodbury, she’s hoping to get 10 to 15 kids signed in, but would certainly welcome more to participate.

Woodbury’s Dana Millington is helping to organize the PeeWee Plunge event, which, she said, will be a nice addition to the Polar Plunge. The pool will be set up under a tent. Other activities for kids will be held under the tent from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the actual PeeWee Plunge beginning at noon. Children’s entertainer Silly Miss Tilly will be on hand, too, and one participant will win a free birthday party from her.

“It’s an awesome way for younger kids to participate,” Millington said. “We’re looking to have crazy hair and face painting and things like that going on, too.”

Those who want to support Special Olympics Minnesota, but who are too timid to take the plunge, are welcome to make financial donations through the Too Chicken To Plunge event.

And that is pretty much what it sounds like — it’s a way for folks to make donations without jumping into the water.

They even get a chicken hat for participating.

“It’s a great way for people who are too chicken to plunge, or for those who can’t physically jump, to get in and support Special Olympics Minnesota,” Millington said.

With three weeks to go before the event, Millington and Powell are optimistic Woodbury will get as many, if not more, plungers registered as were last year.

“Get some others together to do it with you,” Powell said. “That will be way more fun. Then just get into it. Don’t just pay the $75. Get family and friends together for a team, come up with a name, get costumes and have fun. It ends up becoming a tradition for a lot of groups.”

Millington said she would especially like to see more teams coming out of area schools. Special Olympics Minnesota has a program open to grades K-12, called Give Back, Get Unified. Student organizations or teams that register for the Polar Plunge can earn 35 percent of the funds they raise online.

“It’s a great opportunity for school clubs and teams,” Millington said. “They do it to introduce acceptance and inclusion at the schools. I’m really looking for our local schools to get involved in Give Back, Get Unified.”

A portion of the proceeds from the 2016 Woodbury Polar Plunge will go to the Madison Claire Foundation, for the Madison’s Place all-inclusive playground under construction at Bielenberg Sports Center.

For more information on Woodbury’s upcoming Special Olympics Minnesota Polar Plunge, visit plungemn.org/events/woodbury. The Feb. 13 plunge will begin at 1 p.m. at Carver Lake Park. Buses will transport plungers and fans to the Carver Lake site. The buses will leave and drop off at Woodbury High School and Cowboy Jack’s parking lots.

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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