for a reason at Hyrum State Park
IT ON: Participants in the Polar Plunge test
their mettle in the freezing water. / Photo by Caresa
January 18, 2009 | HYRUM -- A Saturday at the
beach sounds pretty nice. But when it takes four
chainsaws to break the ice to get to the water,
some may have second thoughts.
The Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics
Utah took place Friday and Saturday at Hyrum dam.
Temperatures were in the high teens as participants
plunged into the ice-cold water. With a slight
breeze in the air, fog and ice fishermen in the
background, it seemed an unlikely day to take
a dip. The Special Olympic athlete oath -- "Let
me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in
the attempt" -- seemed appropriate as plungers
braved the elements.
Ice-water jumpers dressed as flower children.
/ Photo by Caresa Alexander
Some teams, such as the Cache
Valley Specialty Hospital and the Arctic Angels, wore
costumes. Others wore very little. Teams included local
law enforcement, students from Mountain Crest and Sky
View high schools, and employees from Angie's and America
First Credit Union.
Most plungers jumped in feet first. Other plunges
included the cannon ball, the somersault in the air
and the much-loved belly flop. That feat drew a lot
of noise from the crowd. "That's gonna leave a mark!"
said one spectator, after a plunger smacked the top
of the water with his belly.
At noon Friday, 16 Cache County deputies and law enforcement
officers began the Super Plunge relay. These two groups
had one team member jump every hour, on the hour, for
24 hours. The two Super Plunge teams raised more than
"Last year I did 24 jumps, this year I only did five,"
said Deputy Misty Garn, a Super Plunge team member.
"This year was much better."
Garn, who was also team captain of Cache County Cops
Keepin' it Cool, had gone 30 hours with no sleep. To
prepare, she said she ate a lot of junk food and drank
lots of Mountain Dew.
Garn has been with the sheriff's office for five years
and supervised Special Olympics fundraising for the
sheriff's office just over a year. The combined law
enforcement officers for Cache County raised more than
$20,000 for the cause in 2008. The 2009 goal is $25,000.
Garn hopes the Polar Plunge alone will bring in $20,000.
"It's fun. We come out here and have a really good time,"
Justin Hedstrom of Hyrum and Gregory Short of Logan
were also among the participants who helped raise money
for SOUT. Justin jumped last year and was an experienced
plunger. Gregory, on the other hand, was not.
"I tried wimping out but he wouldn't let me," said
"Yeah, like 10 times!" teased Justin.
"I'm not a fan of the cold," explained Gregory.
Justin seemed to understand Gregory's hesitancy to
plunge. He was also scared his first year and almost
wimped out. Justin was quick to point out that Gregory
was the first to plunge out of their group of three,
which included Zac Zimmerman.
Before jumping, Justin thought, "How cold is it going
to be? Am I going to make it out alive?" As for Gregory,
he thought, "I'm so stupid!"
Forty minutes after the plunge, their feet and hands
still hurt. They expected the pain to go away in another
30 minutes. Despite this, both said they were glad to
do it. "It was a lot of fun," said Gregory. "It was
for a good cause," added Justin.
"It's pretty much like you're going in a swimming
pool, just that it's 15 degrees," said Gregory, as Justin
When asked if they would do it again, Justin said
yes and Gregory said probably not, but then said Justin
would probably drag him into it again. Justin registered
Gregory Friday night. They hope to get a larger group
together next year. "It was a big adrenalin rush," said
Besides the adrenalin rush, there was also a sense
of accomplishing something good. According to the Special
Olympics Utah Web site, "Special Olympics is an unprecedented
global movement which, through quality sports training
and competition, improves the lives of people with intellectual
disabilities and, in turn, the lives of everyone they
touch." The Polar Plunge was one small way to give back
to a great organization and its even greater athletes.