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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Madisonians ‘freezin’ for a reason, baby!’

[media-credit name=’KRISTEN JUVE/Herald photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]Polar_Plunge_KJ[/media-credit]

University of Wisconsin students and community members braved freezing waters and low temperatures to jump in Lake Monona Saturday to benefit Special Olympics Wisconsin.

UW junior Patricia Szparski, a first-time participant, jumped into the waters of Lake Monona with a group of friends under the team name ?Shivver Me Timbers!? The team dressed as pirates and raised nearly $2,000 for Special Olympics Wisconsin.

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?It just seemed like a crazy idea, something interesting and for a good cause,? Szparski said before her team jumped.

Beyond pirates, costumed jumpers were decked out in everything from penguin costumes to state patrol uniforms. Judges awarded scores for each group as they jumped. Szparski?s team earned a perfect 10.

Warming up in the hot tubs nearby, Shivver Me Timbers! members unanimously agreed though they were still cold, they would do it again. After warming up, they headed back to the lake to take a second jump, losing a few of their costume props in the process.

John Weichelt, spokesperson for Special Olympics Wisconsin, was in charge of the event for the first time this year. He said the plunge in Madison would not be possible without UW students.

Groups came from all across campus, from fraternities and sororities to ROTC-sponsored teams who pledged and jumped, comprising at least half of all Madison plunge participants.

Last year, the Polar Plunge in Madison boasted 1,570 participants, raising more than $264,000 to support the athletes of Special Olympics Wisconsin. Weichelt expected to exceed those numbers this year, becoming the largest year since the event began in 1999.

Participants and spectators alike were in high spirits despite the cold, drinking hot chocolate in the heated tents to warm up. The low temperature was the only downside to an otherwise clear, sunny day. Last year, the weather caused two of the nine plunges held statewide to be either rescheduled or downsized.

Most of the members of Alpha Kappa Psi, of the UW School of Business, were first-time jumpers. Waiting in line, they proclaimed to be cold but excited, cheering, ?Freezin? for a reason, baby!?

?I?m really excited to give to charity, and there?s no better way than this,? Alpha Kappa Psi member Mike Nowakowski said.

Other participants came out with friends just for the experience. UW sophomores Danielle Arndt, Courtney Rayman and Megan Brackeen said it seemed really fun and is something everybody should do at least once.

Like many others before them, they were nervous about the cold water which had been frozen over until not long before the event started.

The girls agreed that though they were cold, it was fun, and when asked if they would do it again, Rayman had no hesitations.

?Yeah, definitely,? she said.

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