STANTON — Depending on the day, it may not look or feel like winter as you step outside, but come Saturday dozens of individuals will embrace the cold winter temperatures of Clifford Lake as they plunge into the icy waters.
In an effort to raise funds for year-round sports training and athletic competitions for more than 18,600 children and adults with disabilities in Michigan, participants will jump into the frozen waters of Clifford lake at the fourth annual Polar Plunge at Clifford Lake Inn.
Restaurant owner Connie McKeown says despite a mild winter, hopes are that this will be the most successful polar plunge to date.
“It’s always a great event,” she said. “We raised over $25,000 last year and our goal is to top that this year.”
McKeown said the number of registered participants is ahead of last year’s pace, but hopes the warmer weather doesn’t keep spectators from attending.
“Don’t let the warmer weather scare you away,” she said. “In spite of the mild winter we are still having the event. We’re taking every precaution to make it a safe.”
The plunge is one of 24 scheduled around the state in February and March by the Law Enforcement Torch Run. It is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the restaurant with registration at noon. A party and awards ceremony will begin immediately after the plunge.
Anyone can take the plunge for a minimum donation of $75 or collect donations to receive incentive prizes such as T-shirts, sweatshirts and jackets.
Event organizer Jim Dennis said each year the event has grown from the previous in both the number of jumpers and money raised.
“We’re feeling incredible,” he said. “The people are so generous. The money raised helps pay for equipment, uniforms and lodging for Special Olympics events like the Winter Games.”
Dennis said there is still time for people to sign up to participate and encourages those who don’t want to jump to attend as spectators.
“I really try to get people to come out and watch it once, because usually after that they’ll want to do it themselves or at least help out,” he said. “If you don’t want to plunge, come out and support us by watching others.”
Dennis said because of the warmer temperatures not everyone will be able to watch the event on the ice.
“We had 300 spectators on the ice last year,” he said. “We should be able to have about 10 people out there on the ice at a time this year, but the restaurant has opened the outdoor deck facing the lake and is allowing everyone to watch the event from there.”
According to Dennis, anyone can register for the plunge by visiting www.somi.org or by registering in person Saturday.