Hundreds of Polar Plungers from across the Greater Milwaukee area will be celebrating the end of one era and the beginning of another as they plunge into icy water to raise funds for Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes this February.
In 2020, Special Olympics Wisconsin is excited to kick off the inaugural Oconomowoc Polar Plunge on February 22. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Muskego Plunge, which will be retired after this year’s Plunge taking place on February 9.
The Debut of the Oconomowoc Plunge
The Oconomowoc Plunge is an exciting new entry into Special Olympics Wisconsin’s lineup that will be different from most Plunges in that it will be a “run-in” Plunge. Instead of jumping into the icy water like at most locations, participants will run into the chilly waters of Lac La Belle from the Oconomowoc Community Center. The only other run-in Plunge currently is the original Special Olympics Wisconsin Plunge in La Crosse, where participants have been running into the Mississippi River for more than 20 years now.
“We plunge because we are athletes who give back. We love the sports we do and we believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to do the sports they love and that is what Special Olympics is all about! It is also a great time and a fun atmosphere.” – Haley Daniels, UW-Platteville student-athlete and Plunge team captain participating in the new Oconomowoc Plunge
One team that is looking forward to the new Oconomowoc Plunge is UW-Platteville Athletics. The team has plunged at the Madison Plunge for the past several years, bringing a whopping 28 student-athletes last year. They decided to give the new Oconomowoc Plunge a try this year, and as college athletes they should be more than ready for the run-in aspect of the Plunge.
But whether jumping in Madison or running in in Oconomowoc, the motivation is the same for the team. “We plunge because we are athletes who give back. We love the sports we do and we believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to do the sports they love and that is what Special Olympics is all about! It is also a great time and a fun atmosphere,” said Haley Daniels, UW-Platteville’s Plunge team captain.
The Muskego Plunge rides into the sunset
Feelings are somewhat bittersweet in Muskego since this year will be the final Plunge. However, participants are eager to commemorate 20 years of incredible fun and support for the athletes of Special Olympics Wisconsin.
After plunging at the Zoo last year, it was a no-brainer for athlete leader Tyler Derringer of the West Allis agency to return to Muskego this year to help see it off in style. He’s plunged there multiple times over the years and he’s excited to be part of its final installment. Earlier this year, Derringer accompanied Special Olympics Wisconsin staff on the airwaves to promote the Polar Plunge and talk about what Muskego has meant to him.
“The athletes are so grateful to everyone who has come out and plunged in Muskego over the years,” Derringer would later say. “And thank you to our Plunge sponsors and to the law enforcement who have kept this going for an unbelievable 20 years.”
The Greater Milwaukee area has shown incredible support for Special Olympics Wisconsin over the years. In addition to the Muskego and Oconomowoc Plunges, area supporters can also take the Plunge at the Milwaukee County Zoo on February 15.
“The Greater Milwaukee community has made such an impact on our athletes’ lives. The generosity they have shown over the years through events like the Polar Plunge is incredible,” said Hailey Aderman, Director of Development/Special Events for the Milwaukee area. “We are excited to debut the Oconomowoc plunge while celebrating the 20 years of success that the Muskego Plunge has had!”
Money raised in this winter tradition helps Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes compete in games at the state, national and even international level. It also helps with health and wellness programs that enrich the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities year-round. Last year, thousands of brave and generous participants across Wisconsin brought in more than $1.3 million through the Polar Plunge! In 2020, there are 13 Polar Plunges that take place in cities across Wisconsin.
So whether you live in the Greater Milwaukee area or elsewhere in Wisconsin, there is definitely a Plunge that is right for you. Find your Plunge today at PlungeWI.org!