The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 21, 2014

Mike Pound: Polar Plunge is crazy, but for a good cause

I’m not a big fan of the cold.

As far as I’m concerned, if we’re supposed to be cold, someone wouldn’t have invented indoors. By the way, the person who invented indoors doesn’t get nearly enough credit for it. And really, since being indoors would have meant admitting that being outdoors had been a mistake, I’m guessing that the inventor of indoors was a woman.

Mrs. Grok: “Grok, come inside cave. Rain not come into cave. Not cold in cave.”

Mr. Grok: “Me fine. Me like being wet. Me like being cold.”

Mrs. Grok: “What a moron.”

My aversion to being cold isn’t restricted to winter. I don’t like to be cold in the summer. Say it’s a nice day in July and the outside temperature is 95 degrees and I’m at a swimming pool. I will put off jumping into the pool to cool off as long as I can because I don’t want to be cold when I hit the water.

Wife: “Come on in. The water feels great.”

Me: “That’s OK. I don’t mind being hot.”

Wife: “What a moron.”

I mention all this to explain why I’ve never been tempted to take part in the annual Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics of Missouri. This is the seventh year for the plunge, which raises money to support year-round sports training and athletic competition for Southwest Missouri children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

If you aren’t familiar with the Polar Plunge, let me see if I can explain it to you as simply as possible: What the participants do is head to a very, very, very cold body of water outdoors in early February and jump in.

Got it?

I can understand why some people choose to take part in the Polar Plunge. Take Bill Barksdale. Bill is a member of the Carthage Police Department. I’ve known Bill for years, and while it’s fair to say that Bill is well-liked and respected in and around Carthage, he is also (and I mean this in the nicest way possible) crazy.

So, if a few folks from Carthage are talking on a cold February day and someone says, “Hey, Bill Barksdale just jumped into Shoal Creek,” everyone else would say, “Yeah, I can see that.”

I should point out that besides being crazy, Bill also cares about his community, and jumping into a cold creek is just one of the many ways he helps out others. Most law enforcement folks are like that, which is why both the Carthage and Joplin police departments are major supporters of the Joplin Polar Plunge.

Last year, the plunge raised more than $18,000, and all of that money is being used to support more than 1,800 Special Olympic athletes in Southwest Missouri.

This year’s Polar Plunge will take place Saturday, Feb. 1, on Shoal Creek. The exact location where the plungers will meet the water is 2840 Coyote Drive. Registration begins at noon, and folks start hitting the water at 2 p.m. Immediately after the plunge, participants will be kept on ice for a week or so until they thaw out.

Ha! That’s just a Polar Plunge joke. Actually, there will be a post-plunge party at the Joplin Elks Lodge after everyone gets out of the water and into dry clothes.

The best way to sign up for the plunge and to begin raising money is to go online. To register, go to www.somo.org/plunge.

A number of cool gifts will be awarded to those who raise money. Those who raise a minimum of $75 will receive a Polar Plunge T-shirt. As you might expect, the more money you raise, the better the gifts get. For a complete listing of the prizes, tips on raising money, and plunge rules and information, go online or call 417-624-5505.

As always, I’m sure this year’s Polar Plunge will be a success, and on the afternoon of Feb. 1, I’ll think about all of the plungers.

Then I’ll toss another log into the fireplace.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

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