The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 16, 2013

Mike Pound: Chill out with upcoming Polar Plunge

Robin Anderson has a cold.

Normally, a cold is a bad thing, but for Robin, having a cold may actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise. See, if Robin can just nurse her cold along for a few more weeks, she will have a second excuse for not jumping into Shoal Creek in February.

And let’s face it, when it comes to excuses for not jumping into Shoal Creek in February, you can’t have too many.

Robin is the Southwest Area director of Missouri Special Olympics, and on Feb. 9 her organization is holding its sixth annual Polar Plunge. The idea for the plunge — dubbed “freezing for a reason” — is for folks to raise money via sponsorships in exchange for jumping into Shoal Creek.

Robin told me she is not sure who with Special Olympics decided that a Polar Plunge would be a great way to raise money. She assumes that the idea began with a Special Olympics chapter in a cold state such as Minnesota or Wisconsin, which sort of makes sense. I mean, those people are constantly jumping into cold lakes.

I’m guessing at some point, this conversation might have taken place:

“You know, Lars, we’ve been jumping into this icy lake for years, don’t ya know? Maybe we could get somebody to pay us for doing this.”

“Oh, you betcha, Olaf.”

It could have happened that way.

Regardless, in Joplin the Polar Plunge has become a cool (ha!) deal. At the first plunge, 55 people jumped into Shoal Creek; last year, 160 people hit the water.

Robin was one of those who jumped in for that first plunge. But the next year, the number of plungers increased, and Robin was too busy keeping things organized to jump in herself. As the number of participants continues to increase, Robin has gotten so busy that she doesn’t have time to even think about jumping in the water.

As excuses go, Robin’s is a good one.

And if you add in her cold, Robin is set.

I think it’s great that so many people are brave enough to jump into Shoal Creek.

I am not one of those brave people. I don’t like being cold. When I open our freezer, I wear a coat. I don’t even like jumping into water in July, so why would I want to jump into Shoal Creek in February?

Thankfully, though, a lot of other nice folks don’t share my aversion to the cold, and the amount of money raised by the plungers for Special Olympics keeps climbing. In that first year, more than $11,000 was raised; last year, the plungers raised more than $23,000. This year, Robin is hoping the local event raises $24,000.

Last year, Carl Junction High School raised the most money. The Elks Lodge raised the most among civic groups. The Carthage Police Department was the top law enforcement money raiser, and Bill Barksdale, with the Carthage Police Department, was the individual who raised the most money.

By the way, I need to mention that both the Carthage and Joplin police departments are big supporters of the Polar Plunge. I also should mention that law enforcement folks around the region do many other great things on behalf of Special Olympics.

The best way to take part in the plunge is to form a team. It can be a team from work, from a church, from a school, or it can just be a bunch of people who want to jump into a cold creek.

This year, registration gets under way at noon on the day of the plunge, and the plunging begins at 2 p.m.

Robin said the best way to sign up for the plunge is to go to www.somo.org/plunge and fill out the online registration form. If you need more information or a hard copy of a registration form, you may call 417-624-5505.

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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