Events, Giving Back

Plunging into the Detroit River

Photo courtesy of Special Olympics

Every Monday morning, the writers and staff for the Detroit Regional News Hub meet to talk about what we are covering for the next week.  This meeting is a productive one for all of us, it helps us keep from stealing each others stories and makes sure we’ve got our lean reporting resources deployed properly.

It was at this meeting a few weeks ago where I was talking about the Polar Plunge to support Special Olympics this year.  And it was at this meeting where I was dared to take the plunge.

“Only if you donate the $75 minimum to participate,” I said.

Needless to say, I am now registered for the Polar Plunge on February 18 in Downtown Detroit, although the plunge is taking place in Belleville, Ypsilanti and Brighton as well.  These are just the locations in metropolitan Detroit, there are 27 locations throughout the state.

500 of us are expected to brave the cold waters of the Detroit River while another 1,000 people are expected to participate as spectators.  While this might seem ludicrous to some, it is a fundraiser that is growing in appeal.  In fact, the Detroit event use to be held on Belle Isle until the event outgrew the space.  Now registration is held at GM’s Wintergarden and plungers are bused to the Milliken State Park where they are dropped off to dip into the Detroit River.

There is quite a variety of people who do this too.  It was started by several members of law enforcement and they continue to be a large source of support says Ashley Diersch, development manager for Special Olympics Michigan.  Now many companies are using the plunge as a team building exercise.  Diersch points to a local Real Estate company as an example.  The president of the company has agreed to dress up in any costume his team chooses for the plunge as long as his team hits their fundraising goal. She says he was an impressive Snow White even though he’s 6’ 8”.

Photo courtesy of Special Olympics

Most importantly, all proceeds from the Polar Plunge event help Special Olympians cover the costs of competing, including transportation and lodging.

If you want to join me in plunging this year, you can register online before February 17 or in person on February 18.  If dipping your toes into below freezing water does not appeal to you, spectators are always welcome at Milliken State Park.  And if you want to see me wear a bulldog mask as I jump in the water, help me raise $500.  Our camera crew will love the footage and I will welcome your “appaws”.

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