Students are gearing up to make a splash for the fifth annual Western Kentucky Polar Plunge in the freezing temperatures of Kentucky Lake Feb. 15. The event helps raise money for Special Olympics Kentucky athletes.
Last year the event raised more than $100,000, even though it was the coldest year on record. In the event, five people plunge at once. In roughly an hour, more than 500 people plunge off the dock.
“So far we have 50 more contestants and $4,000 more raised than this time last year,” Laura Miller, director of the Polar Plunge, said. “The event is a great way to meet people for a good cause. Come out and have some fun, but be prepared.”
The event also includes a costume contest, prizes, such as T-shirts, towels and a Caribbean cruise and a 5K walkathon. There are four ways people can be involved in the Polar Plunge: 5K walk, plunge, 5K walk and plunge, or too chicken to plunge (donating money without plunging, while being a part of the event).
To register, an individual can register alone, with others as a group, representing a university or with friends and family.
The 5K starts at New Beach and ends at Old Beach near the Convention Center. The plunge is held at Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park.
At the end of the event, awards are given to the most significant fundraisers such as King and Queen of the Plunge.
Murray State students and professors plunge for a cause during the cold season. Professor Megan Smetana, clinical supervisor for Health Sciences and Human Services, has plunged for the last three years.
“It is fabulous and freezing,” Smetana said. “It is very rewarding because it is such a great cause. It also brings people together and positive energy. I loved every minute of it and it is a once in a lifetime experience.”
Students such as Morgan Bordy, a senior from Louisville, Ky., has a special connection with plunging for the cause.
“I have a little sister who has also participated in the event who is handicapped,” Bordy said. “Last year was my first year plunging and I loved it. I didn’t know what to expect. It is exciting, yet overwhelming because of all the people watching you. It was a great experience and I can’t wait for this year.”
Although some students are familiar with Polar Plunge, student Lynley Sullivan, a senior from Murray, was a first-time plunger in 2013.
But even after one jump, she learned a few things about the event she wished to share with this year’s first time plungers.
“Last year was awesome, “ Sullivan said. “I didn’t expect that many people jumping into freezing water, but I was one of them. You can prepare yourself for the water with the heated tents, but it is so worth your money and time. I would recommend plenty of people joining the cause, plus it is a lot of fun.”
Story by McKenzie Willett, Staff writer