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Taking the plunge

East Ridge High School National Honor Society is organizing a team for the 2014 Polar Bear Plunge at Crystal Lake in Burnsville. This is the third year that East Ridge has organized a team. (Submitted photo)

East Ridge High School students will be chilling out later this month. 

The school’s National Honor Society is in the process of organizing a team for this year’s Polar Bear Plunge, taking place Feb. 22 at Crystal Lake in Burnsville.

“It’s a great event for us to do because it’s unlimited participation,” said East Ridge senior Jessica Gotz, team captain. “Most of all, it’s a great cause.”

The event is a unique opportunity for individuals, organizations and businesses to help raise money for the Special Olympics of Minnesota by plunging into frigid Minnesota waters.

The Polar Bear Plunge consists of 16 different events that take place across Minnesota during the coldest months of the year –January to March.

The Crystal Lake event currently has 636 plungers who have raised $84,563, according to the website.

Each plunger must pledge $75.

“The Special Olympics don’t get much attention, which means less funding,” Gotz said. “If people aren’t aware of it they don’t want to pay for it. But with the (Polar Bear Plunge) students can identify with it.”

East Ridge also has several students who participate in the Special Olympics.

Pledging to plunge This year marks the third time East Ridge has sent a team to the Polar Bear Plunge.

“The atmosphere there was so great,” Gotz said of last year’s event. “Everyone was connected with each other.”

Gotz said she had to plunge twice last year because she lost a shoe in the water.

“I was definitely a little hesitant at first,” she said. “It was a shock once you hit the water, but it was a lot of fun.”

The East Ridge group hopes to have 10 plungers by the event, Gotz said, five more than last year.

Gotz said NHS has held a number of fundraisers to help with the pledges for the Polar Bear Pledge. An exact amount is not known yet.

One of the more popular components of the Polar Bear Plunge is the costume contest; teams are encouraged to dress up for their jump and the teams with the best costume are awarded prizes.

Gotz said East Ridge will be sticking with tradition and will be continuing with its East Ridge theme by wearing black and gold school spirit wear.

“Both genders can do it and it represents our school,” she said.

Gotz said she is excited for this year’s Polar Bear Plunge.

“I‘m just excited to have more people to come,” she said. “It’s going to be a better atmosphere with more people getting connected.”

Visit to join, or donate to, the East Ridge High School Polar Bear Plunge team.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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