Get your winter swimsuits ready because the Polar Plunge returns to Erie on Nov. 12.
The Polar Plunge raises money for local Special Olympics participants to train and compete at the international level.
The funds are raised by individuals pledging to jump in the frigid Lake Erie, and others sponsoring the “plunger.”
Mercyhurst University competed last year, and many students plunged into the lake in late November. Last year, Mercyhurst was the top college in the region, but competition is tougher than ever now that other local colleges such as Gannon University, Penn State Behrend and Edinboro University are competing and have already stated “Mercyhurst is going down.”
This year’s goal is for the school to raise $5,000, and have 100 Mercyhurst students, staff and faculty members participate in the plunge.
Steven Martz, junior Hospitality Major, participated in the event last year.
“I think it’s an interesting fundraiser because it’s not a bake sale, but it’s something you do as a team. It’s completely different than anything that’s done,” he said.
Mercyhurst Student Government encourages students to create a team for others to join, as internal Mercyhurst teams are competing against one another to see who can raise the most money for the cause. The internal winning team is awarded prizes from MSG.
Additionally, the individual plunger who raises the most money for the cause is awarded with the “Plunger of the Year Award,” which is then displayed on the Polar Plunge plaque in the Student Union Great Room.
It is important to note that while teams from Mercyhurst compete against one another internally, on the day of the plunge, the teams go out and plunge as one Mercyhurst family.
“It was really fun last year doing the Plunge with MSG. It’s just fun to do with friends, and not many people jump in freezing water together,” Martz said.
Polar Plunge T-shirts will be distributed to participating students so that all contestants can be uniform and emphasize collaboration and school spirit.
For those looking to jump in, but concerned about the cold water, Martz gives comforting advice.
“Don’t be nervous. It’s really fun. You get all hyped up so you don’t notice the cold,” said Martz. “Most jump right out and wrap up in a towel, so it’s not bad.”
The contacts for any Polar Plunge related questions or comments are Sam Lioi (email@example.com) and Lindsey Rowe (firstname.lastname@example.org), who both plunged last year as well.
“It puts the ice bucket challenge to shame,” Lioi said.
Rowe called her experience last year “incredible” and said she believes “the best part was that Mercyhurst stepped up and raised the most money of all the colleges in the Erie area.”
To register, visit plungepa.org.