2017 Polar Plunge in review

March 28, 2017

Earlier this month, Special Olympics Wisconsin wrapped up an incredible 2017 Polar Plunge season where more than 6,000 plungers across the state helped raise more than $1,000,000 for our athletes.

Beginning with Kenosha on February 4 and ending in Green Bay and La Crosse March 4, 14 cities across Wisconsin participated in the 19th year of the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Wisconsin.

Unusual February weather made it so that some participants plunged in 15 degrees while others plunged in almost 60 degrees. But regardless of the air temperature, every plunger experienced the unmistakably bracing cold that only icy water beneath a frozen lake can provide.

Plungers brace for impact

Plungers brace for impact

Aside from the rather unusual weather that made for a somewhat different experience for many plungers than in typical years, there were plenty of other things this year that helped make for a truly memorable and successful Plunge season.

This year marked the first year of Special Olympics Wisconsin’s Pro Sports Plunge. Executive leaders from FOX Sports Wisconsin, the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Admirals took the plunge on February 26 at the Milwaukee County Zoo to demonstrate their support for the athletes of Special Olympics Wisconsin.

Executives from Wisconsin pro sports teams enjoy a last moment of warmth before taking the Pro Sports Plunge

Executives from Wisconsin pro sports teams enjoy a last moment of warmth before taking the Pro Sports Plunge

A couple other “firsts” took place at the Madison Polar Plunge. Local company Harker Heating & Cooling stepped in as the Madison Plunge’s first-ever presenting sponsor and helped Madison’s Plunge to bring in more than $300,000 on February 18. Meanwhile, local law enforcement personnel participated in Madison’s first Law Enforcement Torch Run Plunge the Friday night before the Plunge.

The 2017 Polar Plunge season was also noteworthy for the success of the Festival Foods icon sales. While the icons benefiting the Polar Plunge have been sold at Festival Foods stores around the state for several years now, this year the campaign saw even more stores participating and helping to raise almost $49,000 for Special Olympics Wisconsin. This was an astounding 54 percent increase over the previous year’s sales.

Festival Foods also got in on the plunging action as employees of the stores plunged and raised money on their own. 68 Festival Foods employees plunged at the Oshkosh Plunge alone while dozens others plunged across the state. At the Kenosha Plunge, the Festival Foods Lakesiders participated in the “Toss Your Boss” event where they raised money to have their boss take the plunge.

A Festival Foods team from Eau Claire plunges

A team of Festival Foods employees plunges in Eau Claire

All in all, despite the historically bizarre February weather, the 2017 Polar Plunge was a hit. There were some new wrinkles added to the programs here and there that made for an even more enjoyable and successful way to raise money and awareness for the athletes of Special Olympics Wisconsin. Here’s to an even more successful 2018 Polar Plunge!

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