Polar Bear Plunge helps raise funds for Special Olympics

More than 800 people plunged into White Bear Lake on Saturday.

A participant in the Polar Bear Plunge cannonballs Sunday into the waters of White Bear Lake.

Jules Ameel

A participant in the Polar Bear Plunge cannonballs Sunday into the waters of White Bear Lake.

by Andrea Schug

Saturday marked University of Minnesota ecology evolution and behavior sophomore Mike DullumâÄôs fifth year plunging into White Bear Lake for the annual Polar Bear Plunge. The first year Dullum decided he wanted to take the plunge, he put together a team of his friends on his high school ski team. âÄúAt first it sounded like something ridiculous to do,âÄù Dullum said. âÄúMy friends and I were pretty excited about the whole thing, and what honestly kept me in it is that my family has always been involved in some way with the Special Olympics, so that was the drive to continually do it.âÄù The plunge involves cutting out a square of ice and lowering a crate into the water to prevent plungers from hitting the bottom of the lake. Sponsored by Minnesota law enforcement, the proceeds from the plunge events go to Special Olympics Minnesota, and the Polar Bear plunge has raised more than $284,000. DullumâÄôs support for the Special Olympics Minnesota was inherited from his mom at a young age. âÄúMy mom has been involved with the Special Olympics ever since I can remember,âÄù Dullum said. âÄúBut the Polar Bear Plunge wasnâÄôt touched by my family until I did it, and then I got my brother involved.âÄù DullumâÄôs participation in the plunge has led to an annual family activity. âÄúIt always becomes somewhat of a family event,âÄù Dullum said. âÄúMy momâÄôs always out there taking pictures and cheering us on. The first year it was mostly because no one believed we would actually do it.âÄù Dullum has seen the event go through many changes throughout his years of participating but said it never gets old. âÄúWhen you hit the water all the air rushes out of your body and thereâÄôs a strange warming sensation,âÄù Dullum said. âÄúWhen you get out you are colder than youâÄôve ever been in life, but at the same time you canâÄôt stop smiling.âÄù On Saturday, more than 800 Minnesotans plunged into White Bear Lake. âÄúItâÄôs the community factor that makes the event so special,âÄù said Anna Kucera, marketing and communications manager for Special Olympics Minnesota. âÄúItâÄôs not just about taking the plunge themselves but cheering on friends and family.âÄù Dullum agreed. âÄúThe reason I got involved was because itâÄôs a charitable donation,âÄù Dullum said. âÄúBut if you stick around and go to the tents or talk to people doing it you learn something about your community. ItâÄôs so much more than just jumping into a lake.âÄù