There was not a lot of “polar” in a weekend “Polar Plunge” event in Salina. An unusually mild February Saturday in Salina was a perfect day to leap off a dock into a lake.
In past years the lake has been layered in ice, but not this year. The air temperature was in the lower 60s, and the water temperature was in the upper 40s, when the group of warm-hearted volunteers took the plunge. As a large crowd of well-wishers cheered them on, over 70 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.
Over 50 runners competed on a unique course that included a combination road run and trail run.
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. Awards for most money raised by an indivudual, most money raised by a team, and largest team were also handed out.
Ryan Batchman, an elementary school teacher in Sylvan Grove, individually raised the most money, over $700 this year. Batchman jumps on behalf of his students. They help him raise funds, and in return he wears a costume that they design. Last year, it was Queen Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen.” This year he was the tree-like creature known as Groot from “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
The two largest teams were from Walmart, and the Salina Police Department, each 22 volunteer plungers strong. Other large teams included a group of honor students from Canton Galva High School, the Salina South Middle School student council, and a team of students from Salina Sacred Heart High School.
The smallest team, “Ain’t Nothing but a Thing”, had three volunteer jumpers. Taking the plunge was the Cat in the Hat, Thing 1, and Thing 2.
The most colorful team was from the Salina Police Department. A group of 22 officers, including Salina Police Chief Brad Nelson, painted themselves as mimes.
Lt. Scott Trembley from the Saline County Sheriff’s Office, and Salina Police Officer Dani Lemon organized the event this year, and also participated. Trembley ran the 5K race, and then took the plunge dressed as Dr. Suess’s “Thing 1”. Lemon took the plunge with her fellow officers, dressed as a mime.
Both Trembley and Lemon told KSAL News they were pleased with the attendance, including participants and supporters.
All proceeds from the Polar Plunge go to help Kansas Special Olympics.
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