By DANIEL SUDDEATH
Barefooted and brazen, they ran into the water like it was a sunny summer day.
But Saturday’s conditions were far from typical beach weather, as hundreds of Southern Indiana people dipped into Deam Lake to fulfill their fundraising drives for the Borden Polar Plunge which benefits Special Olympics.
Unofficially 379 plungers braved the below freezing temperatures and icy lake conditions to raise more than $75,000. Both totals were more than garnered during last year’s Borden Polar Plunge, and fundraising continues through the end of the month.
Groups ranging in size from just a few people to more than a dozen participants raced into the water, most donning clever costumes such as one team that dressed as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Greg Bissig’s team Shock and Fall participated in the Polar Plunge for the third year in a row. Like the other members of his team, Bissig’s attire was designed to draw laughs from spectators.
While he may not have looked serious while wearing a makeshift pink skirt, Bissig said the cause behind the Polar Plunge is certainty worth a shiver or two.
“It’s going to be hellaciously cold,” he said moments before taking his plunge.
Most had their own style of dealing with the moment of submersion. Some held the hands of their friends as they dipped below the frigid Deam Lake waters, while others called upon a breast or back stroke to showcase some style.
Indiana State Police divers were in the water to ensure safety, and medical personnel waited on shore just in case there were any problems. The plungers were greeted with dry towels and ushered to a warm bathroom to change after making their dives.
Jim Titus was shivering when he reached the beach after plunging into Deam Lake. But he still managed a smile and some positive words despite being obviously cold.
“It was exhilarating, and just a great experience for a super cause,” said Titus, who participated in the Polar Plunge for the first time this year along with his team, Andrew’s Hotties from Floyd Central High School.
To participate, individuals must raise at least $75 for Special Olympics. It’s the organization’s biggest fundraiser each year, and Polar Plunge events are held throughout Indiana in February.
Last year $390,000 was raised statewide with 2,100 plungers taking part in the events. The money is used for regional events such as an ice skating championship, men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and the summer games.
For more information or to contribute, visit the website www.soindiana.org