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Polar plunge set for Saturday

Posted: March 14, 2012 - 8:41am

Brave residents who plunge into the icy waters of Cook Inlet during the second annual Central Peninsula Polar Plunge are supporting local kids and disabled youth programs.

“Participants show strong support for their community’s youth and nonprofits,” said Dera Wolf, polar plunge organizer.

Pledging funds to a participant, people support four organizations, which include Friends of Athletes with Disabilities, Youth Restoration Corps, the Kenai Peninsula Native Youth Olympic team and Bridges Community Resources Network.

Divers ask family, friends and local business for support. A young girl has raised over $300 by asking church members, teachers and a business for sponsorship, Wolf said.

The plunge will take place along the beach off of Dunes Street. Residents are encouraged to attend the event and offer pledges.

Last year’s event was held on the morning of Jan. 15. By noon, the temperature warmed to 1 degree, with water temperatures of 34 degrees. More than $8,000 was raised. About 300 spectators attended and watched over 50 divers take the plunge.

The event was moved to March for the warmer weather, Wolf said.
“It’s still chilly, but it’s not as cold as last year,” she said.

Divers are required to sign a waiver detailing the assumption of risk. They must be healthy and in proper physical condition. Participants under 18 must obtain the consent of a parent or legal guardian.

Emergency personnel and divers will stand by to assist people who need help after entering or coming out of the water, and an ambulance will be present for safety purposes.

Other than the requirement of good health the event has few rules. Wolf said she received an inquiry about the use of a wet suit.

“We want to raise funds,” she said. “People can take the plunge however they prefer and enjoy the day.”

The proceeds are split among the four organizations. The Native Youth Olympic team uses their raised money for travel and purchasing uniforms. Members of the team also are participating this year.

Bridges Community Resources Network directs money toward Imaginary Library, a program that provides children with their first book.

Organizer Kelly Wolf is chair of the board of directors for Youth Restoration Corps. The organization’s primary focus is engaging local youth in conservation projects. Proceeds raised from the polar plunge help fund the projects.

Divers who raise more than $100 will receive a polar plunge t-shirt, and all divers will receive a certificate displaying their name, or company name, water and daytime temperatures.

Divers submerged themselves in various costumes during the previous polar plunge. Organizers said they spotted a fairy as well as a viking.

Kelly said he hopes divers arrive in St. Patrick’s day attire.

“Maybe we’ll get a few leprechauns,” he said.

Pledge forms are available at Trustworthy Hardware and Fishing in Soldotna and Three Bears grocery store in Kenai. For more information call Kelly Wolf at 262-1032.

Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at jerzy.shedlock@peninsulaclarion.com.

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