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Holly Holm made a splash last year when she took the icy plunge at the Polar Plu

Brainerd woman and family prepare for Polar Plunge Saturday


Holly Holm first took the “plunge” five years ago when she and a cousin jumped into the frigid, icy waters of Pelican Lake in Breezy Point for the Polar Bear Plunge, a fundraiser for Special Olympics Minnesota. 


And the rest snowballed from there. 

Holm, a Brainerd resident, plans to participate Saturday in the sixth annual Polar Plunge, her fifth jump into the icy water. This year she will be joined by 22 female relatives, ranging in age from preteens to their 60s. Her “bucket list” item of a Polar Plunge jump has turned into a large family reunion where they spend the weekend together at a rental house at Breezy Point Resort. She’ll also be joined by a friend, Mary Kempton of Baxter, a first-time plunger. 

“The men aren’t really invited,” Holm joked of her male family members. “It’s a good time. There’s definitely not a shortage of laughs, that’s for certain.”

Holm, who works for the Brainerd Lakes Chamber, said she is often asked if the water is cold during the plunge. 

Her answer?

“Yes, obviously,” Holm said with a laugh. “It’s really not that bad. You’re only in the water for five or seven seconds.”

Holm said at her first Polar Plunge a Special Olympics athlete came up to her and thanked her for doing this. That’s what makes her return each year.

“It was really a good feeling,” Holm said. “I guess that sort of sucked me in.”

The Polar Plunge, coordinated by area law enforcement, will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday at Breezy Point Resort. Registration time is 10 a.m. to noon with a costume contest at noon. Prizes for costumes will be awarded to Best Team, Best Female, Best Male, Youngest Plunger and Oldest Plunger. 

Participants often plunge in teams and raise money by asking for pledges. Each plunger must raise at least $75.

Registration forms are available at or (800) 783-7732 or by picking up forms at area police departments, area chambers of commerce, Brainerd Fire Department, BL Broadcasting or Breezy Point Resort. 

At the 2010 Polar Plunge, 296 plungers raised $55,000 for Special Olympics Minnesota. More than 200 are now registered for Saturday’s event. 

JODIE TWEED may be reached at or 855-5858.

Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson joined the Brainerd Dispatch in April 2010 and works as a online reporter, content editor and staff writer. She is a world traveler, accused idealist and California native now braving the winters of Central Minnesota. She believes in the power of human resolve and hopes to be part of something that makes history by bringing an end to injustice in the world. Sarah has worked as a criminal background researcher, high school civics teacher, grant writer, and contributing writer with — tackling every issue from global poverty to bio-degradable bicycles. Her favorite thing about living in Minnesota is July. Sarah left the Brainerd Dispatch in April 2014.
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