Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Breaking News

Westside

February 25, 2013

Record number take the ‘Polar Plunge'

Annual fundraiser benefits Special Olympics Indiana

— True, the sun was shining Saturday. But that didn’t make it a good day for outdoor swimming.

Yet hundreds of people donned bathing suits and various other outfits to shun subfreezing temperatures and run into the frigid waters of Eagle Creek Reservoir that day.

For a good cause, of course. They participated in Special Olympics Indiana’s annual Polar Plunge. There are 12 of these conducted every weekend in February around the state. The one at Eagle Creek, this being the 14th, is the last and the largest.

DJs from RadioNOW emceed the event, which included free buzzcuts to add to the chill factor and a costume contest. Various teams came dressed as superheroes, camouflaged soldiers, and prom attendees. The winning team included Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, Union and Confederate soldiers, and even an Oscar statue to symbolize the Academy Award nominations for the film “Lincoln.”

Michael Furnish, Special Olympics Indiana president and CEO, says the Polar Plunge began taking on a life of its own a few years ago.

“There are people now who, I think, must plan their whole winter around being here,” he said. “They dress in ridiculous costumes, raise ridiculous amounts of money, and show up for two or three hours here. That changes everything for us.”

Dermot Nolan has participated in the Polar Plunge for five years now. He’s a mentor for Brownsburg High School’s FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) robotics team 3176. His daughter got him involved when the team started because he’s an engineer. He hasn’t looked back.

“I haven’t had this much fun since I learned to ride a bicycle,” Nolan said of FIRST.

His first year with the team, he was in the Polar Plunge with the Knights of Columbus.

“I decided the following year I could get the students to participate,” Nolan said. “It’s like a coming of age for teen-agers now — ‘have you plunged yet? You’ve got to do it next year.’”

BHS Robotics has grown from 14 students the first year to 34 now.

Of those, 18 took the plunge on Saturday. This was the first year no mentors or teachers plunged with them. They still raised more than $2,100 for the Special Olympics.

“For just a student effort, that’s outstanding,” Nolan said. “I’m proud of them.”

There is something inherently crazy about swimming in an outdoor body of water during winter, even if it’s for a good cause. Nolan admits that in the days leading up to his first plunge he questioned why he was doing it, what he was putting his family through. Then, just before running into the water, “To see a Special Olympic athlete come through carrying an Olympic flame and plunge before you, it’s inspirational.”

Fortunately for BHS Robotics, many of whom were rookie plungers this year, they didn’t have much time to think about the swim. They finished building their robot last week for competition, starting with regionals in March at Purdue University. They’ve made it to the world championships twice in four years. That alone requires fundraising.

Many area engineering firms — including Roark Fabrication, Indy Performance Composites, and Rolls Royce — sponsor the team.

So for them, the Polar Plunge isn’t just some team-bonding event.

“This is us giving back to the community for what they’ve done for us,” said Chris Noble, BHS Robotics’ head mentor, who added they also participate in Special Olympics Indiana’s annual Plane Pull in the summer.

Furnish compares taking the plunge to being in the Special Olympics. Few people embrace a disability as something good. So when you have a relative with an intellectual disability, it’s common to lower your expectations and assume they won’t accomplish as much as the average person.

But then you have the Special Olympics. That person is now competing in sports, winning awards they never thought they would, and simply enjoying life more.

“It’s kind of the same thing here,” Furnish said of the Polar Plunge. “You stand on the beach, look out, and think ‘there’s no way I can do this.’ But then you do and later brag about it to anyone who will listen.”

Some folks do it once and decide never again.

“But for a remarkable number of people, they come back every year and regard it as a sort of rite of passage,” Furnish said.

Text Only
Westside
  • WSF 7-22 news wife killer Man in custody for murdering his wife At about 8:11 a.m. Sunday, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officers were sent to 5702 Laurel Hall Drive after a 911 call of a disturbance with a person injured. When officers arrived they found a female inside the house with head

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • WSF 7-15 news fire training 4 [Duplicate] Firefighter recruits train in condemned buildings The classroom heated up this week for firefighter recruits as they moved into the final states of training: live fire.The Wayne Township Fire Department is hosting the training this week at a set of abandoned buildings on the city’s west side.Mike Pr

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • WSF 7-15 news brewery pic 1 Upland Brewery wins awards at Ind. State Fair Brewers' Cup Upland Brewing Company took home all the big awards in the professional division of the Indiana State Fair Brewers’ Cup competition over the weekend.The Bloomington brewery was named Indiana Brewery of the Year and Grand Champion Brewery of the Year.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • WSF 7-15 news airman burial 1 Fallen airman returns to Indiana after six decades ELWOOD — Unchecked tears rolled down Paul Martin’s lined face as he clutched the hand of a U.S. Air Force servicewoman who handed him a handwritten note at the graveside service for his older brother.The note said simply that it was an honor to atten

    July 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • WSF 7-15 news fire training 3 Firefighter recruits train in condemned buildings The classroom heated up this week for firefighter recruits as they moved into the final states of training: live fire.The Wayne Township Fire Department is hosting the training this week at a set of abandoned buildings on the city’s west side.Mike Pr

    July 14, 2014 4 Photos

  • HCF 7-12 news USO pic 2 USO of Indiana helps active military members INDIANAPOLIS — The United Services Organization (USO) of Indiana helps active military and their families on a daily basis; even on their way through the Indianapolis International Airport.The United Service Organizations was first formed during Worl

    July 14, 2014 3 Photos

  • City's violence continues |Violence throughout Indianapolis continued over the weekend and into the early part of the week. At about 11 a.m. Saturday, officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department were sent to the 1800 block of Heather Court in reference to a

    July 14, 2014

  • Man killed in hit-and-run on Township Line Road |A bicyclist discovered a body in a ditch in the 8800 block of Township Road over the weekend and immediately alerted the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Officers arrived and discovered the unresponsive body of 22-year-old Patrick Hurd o

    July 14, 2014

  • WSF 7-8 ent varekai pic 2 Cirque du Soleil Varekai comes to Indy July 24 INDIANAPOLIS — Cirque du Soleil will be presenting its newest arena show, Varekai, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse from July 24-27 for six performances. Since December 2013, the cast of 50 performers, with 18 different nationalities, began touring the wor

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • WSF 7-8 ent shrek pic 1 'Shrek The Musical' comes to Myers Dinner Theatre Revolution Productions LLC at Myers Dinner Theatre recently announced the next show in their 2014 season, “Shrek The Musical.” It opened July 2. This hilarious, high-energy musical adaptation of the hit film features book and lyrics by David Lindsay-

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Hendricks County Marquee
Email News Sign Up
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Poll

Has the rash of shootings in Indianapolis made you reconsider attending an event or patronizing a business there? Yes, it's out of control No, it's no more dangerous than anywhere else

     View Results
AP Video
Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Must Read