ORLEANS TOWNSHIP — Long Lake is a pristine, quiet lake in Orleans Township, often a place chosen in the summer time by boaters, skiers, fishermen and swimmers as a great place to enjoy the water. And on Saturday, with temperatures hovering around 25 degrees, and an 8 mph winds coming from the northwest, churning up some whitecap waves, there was one lone person going in the water — by choice.
Shane Prewit, lead pastor at Shiloh Community Church, and a group of 30 or so onlookers stood on the shore near Pastor Ken Harger’s lighthouse Saturday afternoon. Most wore heavy coats and gloves and hats, trying to counter the brisk breeze. Prewitt, however, wore a T-shirt, shorts and water shoes.
“We had a six-week contest where we challenged the congregation that if we could get 100 kids from Pre-K to 5th grade in our Kids in Action (KIA) program on one Sunday, Pastor Shane would take a polar plunge,” explained Dale Olling, pastor of education and care.
The KIA program is children’s program that meets during the 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning service.
The program normally has 40-50 kids.
So kids invited friends, and congregants picked up neighbor kids, trying to increase those numbers. And bad weather and sickness hit and knocked them down.
Then on March 5, it happened. There were 124 children in attendance.
“I asked two friends,” said Carson Hardy, age 9, of Saranac. “Even two more would help get us there.”
Breanna Taylor, age 9, of Orleans, and her two brothers added another six friends.
Carson and Breanna were among those watching as Pastor Shane — on his 41st birthday — stood near the water’s edge, icicles dangling off the seawall barrier, and stepped in. He waded out to about thigh-high, turned around and said, “On the count of three- 1,2,3”— and plunged under the water.
“It was excruciating cold,” Prewitt said. “I could feel ice forming on my shirt as I walked back to shore. It was the oddest feeling.”
The key now, said Prewitt and Olling, is to have the kids return.
Correspondent Lori Hansen is a Greenville-area resident.