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'Polar Bears' prepare for cold swim
Dec 18, 2006 12:00 am
Running and jumping headlong into a pool of frigid water may sound a bit extreme, but some Lebanon residents will do just that in January as the eighth annual Polar Bear Plunge comes to the Jimmy Floyd Family Center.
The excitement occurs Jan. 6 as willing residents gather around the center's outdoor pool.
Over the years, the plunge has drawn quite a few participants who gather donations to benefit the Wilson County Special Olympics.
"Last year we had close to 80 people who gave donations, but not all of them will jump," Floyd Center Aquatics Director Cindy Baker said.
All of the proceeds gained from the brave souls who make the jump goes directly to the athletes of the Special Olympics. Baker noted the money is distributed throughout Wilson County.
"Its all for the Special Olympics kids and its all local," Baker said.
Some participants enjoy themselves so much that they brave the elements each year to participate in the event. Emily Vance, a Lebanon resident and lifeguard at the Floyd Center, has been taking the plunge for the past five years.
"I just wanted to see what it was like and see if I could do it," Vance said.
Vance and her father and younger brother have each been regular participants in the event. She noted that each year she and her brother have a "contest" to see who can stay in the water the longest.
This is no easy task to complete.
"The outdoor pool is about 40-degrees that time of year," Vance said. "It just kind of hits you in the chest when you run in and you lose your breath. It's definitely a rush."
Local schools are getting in on the fun this year as area principals are challenging their students to raise funds for the benefit. Friendship Christian, Wilson Central and Lebanon High Schools have all issued challenges. Lebanon Principal Don Hassler told his students if they reach the trarget donation goal, he will take the plunge himself, Baker said.
"We usually have a pretty good response to the event," Floyd Center Office Manager Melinda Stockton noted.
"Its for a really good cause," Vance said, "and that's what keeps me doing it every year."
In order to participate in the event, a minumum donation of $5 is required. Registration will be at 8 a.m. and the fun begins with the plunge at 9 a.m.
Anyone interested in more information about the plunge can contact the Floyd Center at 453-4545.
Staff Writer Kimberly Jordan can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 16 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.