A warm, balmy February day in Salina was a perfect day to leap off a dock into a lake.
With the air temperature in the lower 60s, and the water temperature in the upper 40s, a group of hearty volunteers took the “Polar Plunge” Saturday. As a large crowd of well-wishers cheered them on, nearly 50 people jumped into the lake at the Webster Conference Center.
The event featured an entire morning of activities, including a “Polar 5k” run and a pancake feed.
About 40 runners competed on a unique course that included a combination road run and trail run. The youngest runner was 6-years-old, while the oldest was 71-years-old.
The highlight was a plunge off a dock into the lake on the property. With a couple of rescue divers and a boat in the water, and EMS standing by as a precaution, plungers leaped into the water.
Each person who took the plunge was motivated by donations from friends and family. Many were dressed in colorful costumes, to the delight of the crowd.
Prior to the plunge there was a costume contest, where awards were given for best individual, best couple, and best group costumes.
Ryan Batchman, an elementary school teacher in Sylvan Grove, individually raised the most money, $854. He told KSAL News that his students should get all of the credit. “They help with the fund raising, and have fun with it,” he said. As a reward, Batchman lets them design his costume. This year the dressed him as “Elsa”, the snow queen from the Disney movie “Frozen”.
The group raising the most money was a team from the Salina Walmart store. A group of about 20 employees raised $2,500. The Walmart crew took the plunge into the lake together.
Other teams included group of honor students from Canton Galva High School, and students from Salina Central High School and Salina Sacred heart High School.
The most colorful team was from the Salina Police Department. A group of 10 officers, including Salina Police Chief Brad Nelson, painted themselves blue and took the plunge dressed as Smurfs.
All proceeds from the Polar Plunge go to help Kansas Special Olympics.
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