The 15th day of the New Year began with clear skies and temperatures well below the zero (f) mark in the Kenai area. By 6:00am Kelly Wolf was already at Marathon Lake in the new Kenai Daubenspeck Park. "As I uncovered the hole cut in the ice by volunteers the day before, there was already an additional inch of ice that had formed under the insulation and cover and as I began applying heat, I truly had to wonder what we were doing, even as Alaskans," recalled Wolf. By noon the ice was mostly cleared, the air temperature had risen to nearly -3, and the water temp was about 34 degrees. "Nikiski rescue divers Craig Ralston and Greg Hyatt, along with other emergency personal, suited up and were standing by when people started showing up, and just kept coming, standing in line to register to raise money for our youth and by the time we started jumping the warm hearts and brave souls of this community made it warmer than a day on Miami beach. I have to agree it takes a community to raise a child and this is a community that is 'BIG' on community," said Wolf.
"It was cold!" proclaimed Brittany as she emerged from the ladies warming tent, "But it was a great cause for the Special Olympics and Native Youth Olympics and everyone was very supportive, I raised $400," shivered Brittany. Over 300 spectators and sponsors watched 50 plungers raise well over $7,500 dollars to support the youth activities of the Friends of Athletes with Disabilities, Youth Restoration Crops, Kenai Native Youth Wolf Pack team, and Bridges Community Resources Network. According to Wolf all proceeds will stay here locally to assist kids' programs on the Central Peninsula.
"I was just blown away and amazed at how well everything went for our first year. None of the rescue personnel were needed except to rescue a shovel that slipped into the ice hole. It was recovered by a diver and reported to be in stable condition with a full recovery expected by spring when it'll go to work with the kids on the Russian River," laughed Wolf. "You just can't ask for a better community anywhere to raise a family than right here, and you can bet your cold feet we'll do it again next year." You may still contribute to the Polar Plunge by stopping by any First National Bank of Alaska branch and making a contribution to the Polar Plunge account.
Local sponsors of the event included HEA, Safeway, Fred Meyers, Three Bears, SBS, Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware & Fishing, Ron's Rent-it Center, Wolf's Janitorial, Lyon's Photography, United Tool Rental, Moose Lodge, and Dave's Woodworks.
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