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Go jump in a lake to benefit Special Olympics

A game of bingo is transforming the lives of people with intellectual and physical disabilities.

The annual Alpena Polar Plunge for Special Olympics, this year scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 15, at the Sandbar and Grill in Alpena County, raises funds to help the international organization tackle the inactivity, stigma, isolation, and injustice faced by people with intellectual disabilities.

Each winter, good-hearted Alpena-area people dress in silly costumes and jump into the icy waters of Long Lake to support the cause of Special Olympics. In the weeks before the plunge, each of the jumpers collects pledges from friends and supporters, allowing the community to lend their support to a worthwhile cause.

This year, pledge-takers have a new challenge — to fill up bingo card with pledges before the big event. Donors can be invited to check off squares, committing to contribute 3 to 15 dollars toward the plunge.

In the event’s early years, organizers were pleased to see a profit of $8,000. Last year, the event raised $27,000, according to Trooper Ashley Simpson of the Michigan State Police-Alpena Post, one of the event’s coordinators.

In addition to pledges, the event stirs up donations through a live auction after the plunge. This year’s auction items include a Traeger grill, a generator, a recliner, and a wooden stand-alone swing built by the Alpena woodworking class.

With bingo cards, auction items, costume trophies, and participant T-shirts lined up, all that’s needed is jumpers, Simpson said.

Each year a group of locals in zany outfits lines up good-naturedly, ready to jump, hop, flail, and cannonball into seriously cold water for a seriously good cause.

Brave plungers ready to grab a costume and join in on this year’s fun can sign up online and put their bingo cards to work letting the generous people of Northeast Michigan show what a little cold water and a lot of caring hearts can do.

To register to jump:

Plungers can go to give.classy.org/Alpena20.

To participate without jumping:

The website also offers a “Too chicken to plunge” option for those who want to fundraise and receive an event T-shirt without getting wet.