Every year around the New Year, intrepid souls from across Wilson County gather at the Jimmy Floyd Family Center to take the plunge - the Polar Plunge.
Lebanon's Polar Plunge 2013 is planned for Jan. 12 at the JFFC at 511 North Castle Heights Ave.
JFFC Aquatics Director Cindy Baker said the center has played host to the plunge for around 13 years now, and the weather is always in question.
"There has been ice in the pool," she said. "A few years ago, we had to scrape ice. It was bad and well below freezing."
The annual event is an opportunity to help Wilson County Special Olympics athletes. Plungers collect pledges from friends and family in exchange for jumping into the ice waters of the center's outdoor pool. The top plunger with the most donation total will win a one-year individual membership to the JFFC. Participants with at least $30 in donations will receive a special plunge T-shirt and other prizes will be announced.
"Special Olympics athletes participate in a lot of different sports," Baker said. "All the money raised at the Polar Plunge stays in Wilson County to help our local special athletes."
While bathing suits are the norm, participants are invited to wear their craziest costume, and a prize will be awarded for the top costume at the event. Costume judging will be at 8:55 a.m. with the plunge beginning at 9 a.m. Those who don't have the courage to take the plunge but still want to help, non-participants' donations are welcome so everyone is invited to come out and watch the plungers in action.
The costume contest is a relatively new aspect to the Polar Plunge.
"Last year we had a father/son team dressed as sailors who won," Baker said. "The year before, the winner was a woman who came out in a house coat, with a hair net and slippers."
Locker rooms will be available for changing and, to keep plungers from freezing solid; coffee and hot chocolate will be available to all registrants.
Participants can register online at specialolympicstn.org. Friends and family can sponsor plungers online through First Giving at firstgiving.com/sotn. Anyone can also participate by helping sponsor the event with cash donations and prizes. Contact Baker at the JFFC at 615-453-4545 for sponsor information. Paper registration and donation forms can be picked up at the front desk of the JFFC.
After the Polar Plunge, everyone is invited to stay at the center for the Special Olympic Regional Swim Meet. These committed athletes will go for the gold at the center's indoor pool.
Baker said that cold isn't a problem for your typical plunger.
"For them it's the colder the better," she said. "Not for me, but for them."
Be cooler than cool- take the plunge for a good cause.
Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 45 or firstname.lastname@example.org.