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Polar Bears in Pelican

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news Brainerd, 56401

Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Nothing quite says Minnesota like water and winter. Combining those elements of the “Minnesota way,” is the seventh annual Polar Bear Plunge taking place at Breezy Point Resort Saturday.

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“It’s one of our most successful fundraising events,” said retired Minnesota state trooper LeRoy Ailts, who helps coordinate the event each year. “There is no larger entity that law enforcement does than the Polar Plunge and each year it continually gets bigger and bigger, all for a good cause.”

Presented by Minnesota law enforcement as part of the year-round Law Enforcement Torch Run events to benefit Special Olympics, participants — which can include individuals, teams, organizations and businesses — plunge in to the frigid waters of Pelican Lake beginning at 1 p.m. with a noon costume contest before the jumps.

“The costume contest is just another fun way to get the (Special Olympic) athletes involved,” said Ailts, who has given away one of his own state trooper hat to a lucky athlete for the past six years as an award. “The athletes will pick a winner of not only team costumes, but best male and female costumes with fun prizes to send home with the winners.”

But the real winners remain the athletes, with proceeds raised benefitting Special Olympics Minnesota and help fund the 7,100 Special Olympic athletes throughout the state.

“Last year (at the Polar Bear Plunge) we raised $63,000 and brought out 339 people to take the plunge,” Ailts said. “This year my goal is to get over 350 (people) and exceed that amount from last year.

“It’s all about doing it for these athletes. The fire they have inside them, they are so excited about it, and that’s what it’s really all about. It’s about them.”

Registration and check-in for Saturday’s plunge starts at 10 a.m. with participants asked to raise a minimum of $75 to take dip. Another area plunge is scheduled for March 10 at Eddy’s Lake Mille Lacs Resort in Onamia. More information on both events can be found at www.plungemn.org.

JESSI PIERCE may be reached at 855-5858 or jessi.pierce@brainerddispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jessi_pierce

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