Hundreds took the annual Polar Plunge into Longview Lake Saturday. Proceeds go to benefit training and competition for more than 2,100 Special Olympics Missouri athletes in the Kansas City metro area. Special Olympics Kansas held one at the same time at Shawnee Mission Lake.
A bit of advice for those thinking about joining the seventh annual Polar Plunge next year at Longview Lake – bring extra socks.
Brittany Little didn’t bring extra socks, and the 20 minutes following her plunge into the icy waters of Longview Lake Saturday afternoon were, uh, challenging.
“I thought I’d brought some,” Little, the 34-year-old data entry clerk, said. “I know I brought some.”
As Little scrambled on the hillside, another super plunger, Rick Davies of Lee’s Summit, offered one of his six extra pair of socks, each pair emblazoned with a Missouri Tigers emblem.
A Jayhawks fan through-and-through, Little humbled herself and snatched them up.
“I’ll get them back to you,” she said.
Little and Davies were among hundreds to take the annual plunge into Longview Lake. Proceeds go to benefit training and competition for more than 2,100 Special Olympics Missouri athletes in the Kansas City metro area. Special Olympics Kansas held one at the same time at Shawnee Mission Lake.
Plungers raised more than $182,000 last year. The highest individual amount raised – by Lee’s Summit police officer and Super Plunger Brian Wilson, the only officer to plunge, according to event organizers – was about $6,000. That’s especially impressive considering the event requires each participant to raise a minimum of $75 to participate.
Five years ago, the event raised $13,000.
That impresses Angel Bettincrist, a Raytown resident who decided to plunge because a best friend of hers growing up, who has since moved to Illinois, inspired her to plunge three years ago.
“Do I like doing it?” she said, preparing for it. “Not so much. I like more thinking about it later, after I’m done doing it.”
Many participants are encouraged to wear costumes. Since the event began Friday at 12 noon, dozens of costumes – from Chippendale dancers to diaper-clad men to wig-wearing and barechested grandfathers – could be seen. Groups and individuals plunge every hour on the hour.
Most simply plunge quick, keeping the water waist level. Others, like Nick Stone of Kansas City, sink like a stone, keeping himself under water as long as possible – about 20 seconds.
“The first time you’re in, you can’t believe it’s so cold – and that’s not even going all the way under,” he said. “Then you just deal with it.”
Open to anyone 10 years and older, plungers receive a commemorative shirt, bragging rights and eligibility for prizes, including the Golden Plunger Award, awarded to the individual and group voted best costume.
Stone remembers last year – a bit on the balmy side.
“But I had a cold last year and had chills,” he joked. “This year I’m fine and it’s freakin’ freezin.”
Event sponsors include All Seasons Tent Rental, Bledsoe Rentals, Code 3, INK, KCPD Credit Union, Lee Jeans and Swim Things. Other participating Law Enforcement agencies include Cass County Sheriff’s Department, Grain Valley Police Department, Independence Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and the Pleasant Hill Police Department.