Running into a lake when its 30-something degrees outside would seem like the worst activity to take part in. However, I recommend you try it out.

Over the last 10 years, hundreds have gathered at Woolly Hollow State Park, dressed in various costumes as they prepare to willingly plunge into frigid waters.

Supporting local Special Olympics athletes changes one’s outlook on many things. For instance, I never would have thought I’d be excited about diving into freezing-cold water while wearing a sparkly tutu. I hate cold weather, yet I’m a proud supporter of plunging into Lake Bennett to help support Special Olympics athletes.

The Polar Plunge is a fundraising event that allows area residents to act silly and bond by taking the miserable plunge together. It’s an experience like no other, and the event truly brings everyone onsite closer together.

As area organizer Brenda Dowdy explained it, “It’s something you just don’t understand until you try it yourself.”

Once you try it out for yourself, you’re hooked, she said. And, she’s right.

This will be my fourth year to take part.

I remember when one of our front desk girls walked over to the reporters’ pod at the old office on Main Street four years ago asking if any of us would be willing to take on the Polar Plunge with her. I disliked everything about the idea. But for some reason, I agreed to take the plunge with her.

I’ll never forget my first plunge.

I’ve never felt better about driving home in soaking wet, cold clothes.

It was the most rewarding feeling.

Many organizations, particularly the CenterPoint Energy crew, create an overall theme and show up in costume – some acting in character.

Each year is just the same, the atmosphere is cheerful and everyone onsite greets you with a smile, even the full-grown man dressed as Tinkerbell is overjoyed to participate.

However, with such joy comes the inevitable moment where you immediately realize you’ve made a mistake. That moment sinks in just as you approach the water and come to terms with the fact that you’re about to jump in that cold water because you said you would. In that moment, you realize you could have just purchased an “I-Chickened-Out” T-shirt to support the cause. Once that feeling subsides, excitement creeps back in and you can’t help but smile and laugh about this crazy thing you just did.

Having local law enforcement onsite and participating is also encouraging. SOAR athletes love meeting police officers. Knowing our local officers are willing to jump in a cold lake to help support and fund their activities is inspiring.

Come out and see what the craze is all about! The event will be at Woolly Hollow State Park on Feb. 22.

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