Otter Tail Lake Polar Plunge blows fundraising goal out of the water, raising over $70K
The plunge happened this past Saturday, Feb. 5. As of Monday, the 2022 fundraising goal of $65,000 had been surpassed to $70,401.
OTTERTAIL — Community members splashed into the cold third annual Polar Plunge on Otter Tail Lake on Feb. 5 in support of athletes with Special Olympics Minnesota .
The Polar Plunge is a large statewide fundraiser for Special Olympics; the Otter Tail Lake location was added in 2020.
Thus far, the fundraising goals for this year have been blown out of the water, with the $65,000 goal surpassed to $70,401 as of Feb. 7.
A total of $186,080 was raised over the previous two years. The Otter Tail Lake event is hosted by Special Olympics Minnesota, the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office and Otter Tail Lakes Country Association .
With creative costumes and excited attendees, plungers were cheered on by the athlete oath, “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
Otter Tail County Sheriff Barry Fitzgibbons kicked off the event with the first plunge of the day and later thanked participants: "What a great opportunity to get communities together," he said.
Skies were cloudy and temperatures were the coldest yet for the 2022 event. Temperatures hovered in the teens and the water wavered around 35 degrees. Ottertail, Henning and New York Mills fire and rescue teams supported plungers in the water and onto the exit walkway.
“We were lucky the last two years, it’s been very nice, and now we’re paying for it today,” Fitzgibbons said of the weather. “But the energy level is the same, people are excited.”
Friends and family added to the cheers of the plungers, who jumped into the lake in costume. People were dressed up like the Flintstones, beach-goers, money, hippies and more. In their time under the polar bear spotlight—the Special Olympics inflatable—plungers catapulted, belly flopped and leaped into the cold water.
Over 100 people of the 174 registered plungers jumped in about an hour.
The Polar Plunge has become a family event for the Hubers, who dressed up as horned animals like narwhals, unicorns, kittycorns and zebracorns as “The Horny Blessings” team. They dressed as gnomes last year. The team included Bill Huber, Sam Martel, Bella Huber-Rustad, Amelia Wolters, Jared Martel and Aliesha Wolters.
The cause of Special Olympics is “something near and dear” to the family, they said, as Bill Huber’s nephew has loved being involved for 25 years.
Both Huber and Jared Martel decided their version of full commitment was dunking under the water this year. Afterward, Martel noted the experience as, “Cold, like everyone else’s, but invigorating.”
Sam Martel cheered along with their daughter, both sparkling in unicorn headbands, as she participated virtually. She started the family tradition in 2019.
Fitzgibbons said the county is glad to support a great cause.
“We’ve got a lot of people doing a lot of good work to make this event happen,” he said.
For more information about Special Olympics Minnesota, visit specialolympicsminnesota.org/ . There are Special Olympics delegations in Perham and Fergus Falls, and school-based programs in Wadena County.
For more information about the Otter Tail Lake Polar Plunge, visit plungemn.org/events/ottertail/ .