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February 19, 2012

FREEZIN' FOR A REASON: Hundreds take a plunge in Deam Lake

More than $65,000 raised for Special Olympics

BORDEN — For a second straight year, above-average temperatures made for a more bearable Polar Plunge at Deam Lake in Borden.

On Saturday morning, 362 people walked or ran into the lake to raise funds and awareness for adults and children with intellectual disabilities. The Polar Plunge is Special Olympics Indiana’s signature fundraising event.

Tara Harmon, 27, participated for the third time. Her 15-year-old brother, Shane, competes in swimming and track in the Special Olympics. She said this event gives them the opportunity to support him.

The funds raised through Polar Plunge are used to pay for things like room and board for Special Olympians when they compete in tournaments.

The number of people dressing up for the costume contest also grew this year. Employees of the Clark County Sheriff’s Department went dressed as jail inmates.

Harmon’s family dressed as pirates. She made the suggestion, and her father added that they should go with a “shiver me timbers” theme. Jumping in the lake is also part of the excitement.

“It’s not real bad when you get in the water. It’s when you come back out,” Harmon said.

Shannon Bline, public relations specialist for Area 2, said the Polar Plunge in Borden raised $77,000 last year as 311 people participated. As of press deadline, the event had raised $65,070. Event organizers expected that number would increase by a couple of thousands, as pledges were still being taken.

This was the second consecutive year of relatively moderate conditions. The water temperature at the time of the plunge was 41 degrees — the same as last year. In 2010, the water temperature was 32 degrees, and several inches of ice covered the lake.

Despite warmer conditions ahead of a cold front, many participants were still shivering as they exited the lake.

“It was cold,” said Andrea Cardoso, 23, who was part of a team from the YMCA that came to support the 2010 Special Olympics Indiana State Athlete of the Year, Adam Sandifer.

Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore carried the torch and was one of the first to take a plunge, along with Jeffersonville City Court Judge Ken Pierce and Sandifer.

Porsha Collins, 22, and Tiffany Abbott, 24, were first-time participants with a group from Your Community Bank.

“Obviously [I went] for the cause, but also doing a group thing with the bank. I’m one of those people that likes to go to as much as I can,” Collins said.

The event is held at 11 sites in Indiana during February. This is the 13th year for the Polar Plunge in Indiana and the 5th year at Borden. More than $370,000 was raised statewide last year to benefit Special Olympics Indiana. Organizers hope to top $385,000 this year.

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5-year-old Nicholas Garrison is handed a lemon drop, while 6-year-old Thomas and 4-year-old Walker Sturgeon, try theirs at Schimpff's Confectionery Friday afternoon in Jeffersonville.

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