Jumping into a frozen lake in the middle of winter. I've announced my intent to do just that, and have had more people questioning my sanity in the past week than in the past 20 years. No, I'm not planning to jump off a bridge the next time the Wild fall out of playoff contention. I'm simply participating in the 14th annual Minnesota Polar Bear Plunge.
The Polar Bear Plunge is put on by Minnesota Law Enforcement to raise money for the Special Olympics in Minnesota. It's been taking place here since 1998 and has grown from 1 site to 14 this year. There is also the addition of a 5K run this year in Minneapolis.
All you have to do to participate is register, sign the liability waiver and raise or donate a minimum of 75 dollars. You can even get your friends together to jump as a team. They do offer incentives for different levels of fundraising as well. It starts with a long sleeved shirt at 75 dollars, adding a hat at 200 dollars, a shirt and a sweatshirt at 400 dollars, 750$ lightweight jacket and shirt, heavy jacket and shirt at 1,000$ and a $150 gift card at 1,1500
So, why does this matter here on a hockey blog? Well, this year, there's the Fox Sports North Face Off. Promo can be viewed here if you haven't seen it on TV. Minnesota Wild Player, Cam Barker and Fox Sports North personalities Kevin Gorg and Mike Greenlay have also gotten involved and have some friendly competition going on (at least I hope it's friendly). They've formed two teams: Team Barker: Go Wild and Team Gorg and Greenlay: Frozen Five Holes. Both teams are recruiting donations and members to jump on March 5th into Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis.
Barker participated in the plunge in Illinois as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009. He raised money for another plunge in Chicago in 2010, but after his trade to the Wild, former teammate, Andrew Ladd, jumped in his place. Mike Greenlay and Kevin Gorg discussed their involvement in a blog on the FSN site. Greenlay has been doing this for multiple years, and last year, talked Gorg into it. Their stories can be found here.
I'm doing it because my cousin is a Special Olympian. She is mentally handicapped and has participated in 3 events for several years: bocce ball, bowling and power lifting. She was about the only person that was actually excited I was doing this and has since decided to jump with me on the 5th.
So, Wilderness, anybody else out there want to plunge with me? Join Team Barker. Join the Frozen Five Holes. Start a Hockey Wilderness team. It's my first time so I can't speak on how great of experience it is, but it is a great cause. For those of us in Minnesota, the website is plungemn.org. In other states and Canada, a Google search for polar bear plunge will take you to the right places.