Plunge for a cause

The water may have been cold, but that didn’t matter to the participants in the annual Fort Dodge Polar Plunge fundraiser Sunday afternoon.

Instead, those 60 participants, which made up 11 teams, were able to ignore the 48 degree waters of Badger Lake because they were raising money for Special Olympics Iowa.

Sunday’s event, which was held at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, raised more than $9,000 for Special Olympics.

The fundraiser brought out both Polar Plunge veterans as well as first-timers.

Megan Johanson, who has been taking part in the fundraiser for the past four years, was on the FDCF Ice Pack team, which was composed of employees from the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility.

“It’s all about giving back to the children,” Johanson said.

Though the wind was gusting Sunday, Johanson said she was still looking forward to jumping into Badger Lake.

However, her dog Zoie, who accompanied her, was not going to be braving the waters with her.

“She might get close to the water, but she won’t get in,” Johanson said.

Jeremey Moore, a member of the Fort Dodge Polar Plunge planning committee, took part in the fundraiser as a member of the Cops and Robbers team.

Moore offered advice to those who were taking the plunge for the first time.

“Don’t wear anything too heavy,” he said. “Move fast if you can and the sooner you get out, the warmer you’ll be.”

Another Polar Plunge veteran, Brant Nelson, literally took a dive into the water; his teammates, who stayed on shore, tossed toilet plungers into the water and he had to retrieve them.

Despite the unexpected slip, Nelson, a member of the DOC (Department of Corrections) Polar Plungers, said he still had a good time.

“The water was surprisingly not that bad,” he said. “It’s been colder in previous years.”

He felt the most important part of jumping in the water was raising money for Special Olympics.

“It’s about being able to give back and raise money for a good cause,” he said. “I also always do the plunge with my coworkers, and we have great camaraderie.”

Jessica Schade and her teammates from the Dakota City Demolition Crew, a roller derby team, were taking part in the Polar Plunge for the first time.

“We thought it would be a great way to raise money,” Schade said.

She said her biggest concern wasn’t the temperature, but the wind, which was strong enough to cause a wind advisory to be issued Sunday afternoon.

“It’s not too cold out, but once you get out of the water, that wind is vicious,” she said.

Still, Schade said her team was ready for anything.

“We’ve prepared,” she said. “We have blankets and dry clothes all ready.”

Tammy McClellan, a member of the Wild Hogs, also wasn’t concerned about the water temperature.

“It’s not bad,” she said. “It’s bearable because you know where the money is going to.”

Special Olympics Iowa provides both sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities across the state.