Polar Plunge raises 300,000K

By Tara Nokelby

Friends, family, co-workers, and UAA students came together last Saturday for the 3rd Annual Polar Plunge at Goose Lake to support Special Olympics Alaska. The “Polar Plunge” helps 2,000 statewide athletes in sport training and competition. Nearly 250 teams have raised $300,288 so far!

On Dec 17, individuals and teams dressed up in costumes or any type of attire, within appropriateness, and jumped into Goose Lake. At 24 degrees, the temperature was high, compared to last year’s temperature of negative 2.

Even if you can’t or won’t jump in, there is room for everyone to participate, as long as they reach the $100 minimum donation.

The prizes range from a towel to a sweatshirt to Alaska Airline miles.

For the past three years, organizers have cut a hole in the ice that participants “plunge” into. There have yet to be any safety problems. In fact the only problem, says Jim Balamaci, President and CEO of Special Olympics Alaska, is the weather not cooperating.

But just in case, divers and paramedics are there to help anyone after plunging, and there is a nice hot tub for the participants to jump in and warm up!

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Along with all the hard work Balamaci does for Special Olympics Alaska, he also is a plunger.

“It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life and I can’t wait to do it again,” he said.

Some of the UAA sorority girls, Alpha Sigma Alpha will be taking the Plunge.

“Not all of the girls are doing it, but the ones that are brave enough are,” said Alpha Sigma Alpha sister, Brittney Inglis.

Special Olympics is one of Alpha Sigma Alpha’s national philanthropies. Sisters all around the country participate in Special Olympics events to help support them. Inglis has been doing the Polar Plunge every year; this year she has raised nearly $520.

Sophomore Amanda Weidner is also participating. From family and friends, she has raised $140. Weidner plans to where onsies with her teammates and fellow UAA students, the “Young Fabulous Alaskans.”

Weidner seems a little nervous about her plunge in the freezing water:

“Who willingly wants to jump in a frozen lake?!”