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What you need to know about Breezy Point’s ‘Polar Plunge’

The 17th annual Breezy Point Polar Plunge is Saturday, March 5. The Special Olympics fundraiser will take place outdoors on Pelican Lake. This year’s goal is to raise $50,000, and about $40,000 has been raised — with more than 230 plungers registered — as of Thursday.

A man raises his arms in triumph after jumping in the cold water of Pelican Lake as part of the 2021 Breezy Point Resort Polar Plunge fundraiser for Special Olympics Minnesota.
A man raises his arms in triumph after jumping in the cold water of Pelican Lake as part of the 2021 Breezy Point Resort Polar Plunge fundraiser for Special Olympics Minnesota.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BREEZY POINT — Want to have a cool time in the Brainerd lakes area this weekend?

The 17th annual Polar Plunge at Breezy Point Resort will take place at about 1 p.m. Saturday, March 5. Participants in the outdoor event in icy waters will check in starting at 10 a.m. that day.

“Whether or not you have a relative or a friend or whatever that's jumping, come and watch it because it’s fun,” said LeRoy Ailts, plunge coordinator. “The reaction these jumpers have when they hit the water or before the water and after the water is just amazing.”

The Polar Plunge has been Special Olympics Minnesota’s biggest fundraiser since 1999 and ensures thousands of adults and children with intellectual disabilities will be included in their community by way of sports, health initiatives and leadership training.

Gallery-Polar-Plunge (46).jpg
A Brainerd lakes area law enforcement officer jumps into Pelican Lake as part of the 2021 Polar Plunge at Breezy Point Resort.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

This year’s goal for the Breezy Point Resort event is to raise $50,000. More than $40,000 has been raised as of Thursday afternoon. Funds will go to Special Olympics Minnesota to help pay for athletic uniforms and for athletes to compete in Special Olympic events.

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“The idea of dipping into Pelican Lake sounds inviting most days, but when the top layer of ice has to be removed first — not so much,” the resort’s website states.

The Breezy Point Polar Plunge has raised more than $1 million in its history, with 141 plungers last year who raised $38,139. But 350 plungers raised $94,541 at the in-person event in 2019 — the year before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

“What we do is a costume contest at noon on Saturday,” Ailts said of the plungers and the traveling trophy. “And then after that point — somewhere close to 1 o'clock — is when we plunge.”

The Polar Plunge is presented by the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which is a movement of law enforcement personnel championing inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities in their communities. Law enforcement volunteers donate their time, talent and resources to a variety of Special Olympics Minnesota events.

The reaction these jumpers have when they hit the water or before the water and after the water is just amazing.
— LeRoy Ailts

There are 430 Special Olympic athletes who participate in Area 5, which covers Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties, according to the resort’s website, who compete in basketball, aquatics, track and field, bowling and unified bowling.

There are almost two dozen Polar Plunge events across the state as well as the option to plunge virtually for those who do not feel comfortable attending an in-person Polar Plunge.

“You can register online up until the time of the plunge and we take walk-ins,” Ailts said of the Breezy Point event. “But we ask you to raise at least $75 to jump and then you get the privilege of jumping in the water at Breezy Point Resort and a long-sleeve Brainerd Plunge shirt.”

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Children are welcome to participate in the Polar Plunge, but individuals under the age of 18 are required to have a parent or guardian present at the Polar Plunge at all times.

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Polar Plunge participants should bring a towel with to dry off and warm up; old or waterproof shoes all plungers must wear at all times; a plastic bag to transport wet clothes; a dry change of clothes; and a dry pair of underwear.

Separate men’s and women’s changing areas will be available, according to the Polar Plunge website, and law enforcement officials will be present and monitor the area.

For more information or to register online for Saturday’s Polar Plunge at Breezy Point Resort, visit plungemn.org/events/brainerd . To make a donation online, visit reg.plungemn.org/find .

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL

Related Topics: FUNDRAISERSTHINGS TO DO BRAINERDPOLAR PLUNGEBREEZY POINT RESORT
I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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