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Taking the Polar Plunge

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By Bryan Marshall

Below freezing temperatures and icy water did not stop a group of Williamstown students recently from plunging into a pool for a good cause.

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Ten Williamstown Senior High students, a 2008 graduate and a teacher, Tim Moore, participated in the 2009 Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday, Feb. 21, in Lexington to support Special Olympics Kentucky.

The Friendship Foundation club, which consists of special education students being mentored by their fellow Williamstown School students, raised $1,085 for the cause.

“It was cold that’s for sure. It was for a good cause though,” said senior Jamie Manning. “Before I left, my mom told me to just breathe. Your first instinct when you hit that water is to take a deep breath, but you can’t because it’s so cold.”

Although the temperature outside hovered around 30 degrees, the group dressed in Hawaiian shirts, shorts, grass skirts, sunglasses and bathing suits.

Two brave souls, junior Matt Dade and 2008 graduate Devin Hurley, even went shirtless for the jump.

“It felt like I had a whole bunch of energy,” senior Richard Moore said about when he hit the water. “They said the water was 34 degrees, but I don’t think was. I thought it was 40 below.”

Next year, Moore said he will simulate a wrestling move while jumping into the water and possibly wear warmer clothes.

“I may wear a pair of pants and a long sleeved shirt,” he said.

While the water sent tingles down the participants’ spines, the cold air exiting the pool may have been worse.

The female students had to stand in a changing tent in soaking wet clothes for about five minutes after the jump until local paramedics finished examining a plunger who slipped getting out of the pool.

“I will definitely do it again. Even though I’ll be graduated, I’ll be back,” said Manning, who lost her Hawaiian lei during the plunge. “I’ll maybe wear shoes next year because it was freezing while you were waiting. After we left Golden Corral, I was still cold.”

The Lexington fundraiser was one of five events statewide organized to raise money for Special Olympics Kentucky.

Last year, the Polar Bear Plunges raised more than $491,000, topping 2007’s record fundraising mark by nearly $30,000.

Beverly Bass, Grant County’s Special Olympics coordinator, thanked the Friendship Foundation for their support.

“I think it is great to have the community involved in such a wonderful program,” she said.