WITH VIDEO: Polar Plunge raises $35,000 for Special Olympics Michigan
Charlie Brown and a banana were just two of the characters to take an icy plunge on Saturday.
The Special Olympics Michigan collected $35,000 with the support of 195 people who were brave enough to jump into Rose Pond Saturday at Central Michigan University.
Mount Pleasant resident Nathan Jonaitis collected the largest contribution of almost $5,200.
Dressed up as a shower, he said this is his sixth time participating and he always tries to be original with his costume.
“I started it because they started doing it in Mount Pleasant and it’s something I always wanted to do,” Jonaitis said. “Then I got such a good response from people and from raising money, so I kept doing it. I’m pretty competitive.”
Both dressed up in a suit and tie, Harrison senior Jessica LePage donated $215 while Oxford sophomore Mark Hurrish donated $115.
LePage said their choice of costume was influenced by the “How I Met Your Mother” character Barney Stinson.
Hurrish said participating seemed like a good idea at the time.
“It’s cold out, so it’s like a less good idea now,” he said.
Owosso resident Karrie Crego and her group, Team Extreme, donated $675 to SOMI. She said this was her first time participating with her daughter and two nieces.
“It was awesome. I’ll definitely do it again next year,” Crego said. “It feels good. Team Extreme will be back.”
Crego said their group has done many “extreme things” together over the last five years, including sky-diving, water rafting and cave exploring.
“It’s not as bad as you think. It’s over before you know it,” said Crego's daughter Darcy, a senior and an intern at SOMI. “The wait is probably the worst part.”
CMU alumnus Ryan Barck participated with his 12-man group. He said they have been involved for six years, but this was the first time he wasn’t working on the plunge day.
“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever done,” Barck said after jumping.
He said he probably would do it again because he would know what to expect, but he wouldn't wear a costume.
St. Louis resident and fourth-year participant Lucas Willson, 13, disagreed.
“I think you should dress up,” he said. “It’s fun for everyone.”
His group Team CFX donated $900. Carrie Willson, Lucas’ mother, said one of his friends, Craig Lancasteor, 11, has autism and it was his first time taking part in the plunge.
“He (Craig) said he would do it again next year,” Willson said.
Jonaitis said he encourages people to plunge for Special Olympics and enjoy the exhilarating feeling that comes along with it.
“At first you’re nervous, but then glad you did it,” Jonaitis said.