More than 270 Polar Bears and a large crowd of spectators were greeted by a beautiful morning when they arrived at Texas Roadhouse on Richmond Road on Saturday, Feb. 9, for the 2013 Lexington Polar Plunge. Bright sunshine washed over the crowd and took most of the chill off the winter morning, making for a great day for everybody involved. Polar Bears raised more than $77,000 this year, surpassing last year's total and making this the third-largest Polar Plunge in the event's 14-year history.
Festivities opened with a welcome from Special Olympics Kentucky Global Messenger Tonya Cornett and the annual costume contest. The contest -- judged by Cornett, Toyota VP of Administration Mike Price, Megan from Courtesy on Wheels and Meredith Lane from 104.5 The Cat -- was won by the Paper Hat Pirates from Beard and Loathing (a beard appreciation group from Richmond) in the Best Group Costume category and by Kevin Curren in the Best Individual Costume Category. Curren dressed as an old man and hobbled
across the stage with the help of a walker. Curren has always taken the contest seriously and has now won Best Costume honors four times. He has participated in the event since 2002 when his then eight-year-old son Casey wanted to take the Plunge. The two won the costume contest that year with their homemade penguin costumes. This year Casey -- now 18 -- was able to rejoin his dad at the Plunge for the first time in several years, posing as his dad's lifeguard.
|Casey Curren heads into the water as his
dad Kevin looks on. The two first
plunged together in 2003.
Curren wasn't the only repeat winner at this year's Polar Plunge. In fact, the top two awards went right back to the homes they arrived from. Bryan Warren of the Federal Medical Center Lexington Showcats team was named King of the Plunge once again, raising more than $1,500 this year. The Queen of the Plunge and overwhelmingly the event's overall top fundraiser was Elisabeth Akin of Team Toyota once again. Akin, who has won the crown many times, raised $5,227 this year. The Prince of the Plunge went to Clay Wachs of the Jessamine County Sharks Special Olympics aquatics team. Wachs raised $385. Ashlei Green of Agent Green Lexington was the Plunge Princess with $85 raised. The Top Too Chicken Fundraiser (someone who wanted to raise money to support the Plunge, but who did not jump) was Justin Hogan of the FMC Lexington Showcats who raised $80.
A new Plunge award was added this year which recognized the Special Olympics athlete who raised the most money. The first Top Fundraising Athlete award went to someone who is also used to leaving the Plunge with some hardware. Gymnast and cheerleader Oana Warren (Bryan Warren's daughter) was the Plunge Queen two years ago. This year she raised $180.
The FMC Lexington Showcats also took home two of the team awards. They won the Polar Cup as the largest overall Law Enforcement team with 34 members and were the Top Fundraising Team with
$8,669.99 raised. The Polar Cup for largest Corporate or Civic team went to Hugs From Dallas who had 11 members raising $3,294.05. The Cup for largest school group went to Eastern Kentucky University's Pi Beta Phi sorority Pi Beta Phi had 12 sisters plunge, raising $1,920.
Click here to view and purchase photos from the 2013 Lexington Polar Plunge
|Plunge emcees Michael Estime, Doug High and Lauren Gawthrop hit the water to
close out the Polar Plunge.
Special Olympics thanks everyone who made the Polar Bear Plunge such a success, especially the event committee and the event sponsors — Texas Roadhouse and Bruce Stebbins; Toyota Motor Manufacturing; Clear Channel Radio Lexington — 104.5 The Cat & event emcee Meredith Lane, 98.1 The Bull, 100.1 Double Q, Rewind 105.5 and Mix 94.5; ABC 36 and My TVQ2 and emcees Michael Estime, Lauren Gawthrop and Doug High; AAA Travel, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics and Aramark. We also need to thank the Lexington Fire Department who fills the pool every year and provides emergency support. Thanks also to event photographers Dave Holzwarth, Scott Mandl and Ward Ransdell, who all volunteered their services.
The Lexington Plunge was one of six Polar Plunges held in Kentucky this year, with other events in Bellevue, Lake Cumberland, Louisville, Owensboro and Western Kentucky. In all more than 2,800 people took the Plunge this year for Special Olympics Kentucky, raising more than $688,000.
2013 Lexington Plunge Award Winners
King of the Plunge — Bryan Warren, FMC Lexington Showcats; $1,509.99 raised
Queen of the Plunge — Elisabeth Aikin, Team Toyota; $5,227.00 raised
Prince of the Plunge — Clay Wachs, Jessamine County Sharks; $385.00 raised
Princess of the Plunge — Ashlei Green, Agent Green Lexington; $85.00 raised
Top Too Chicken Fundraiser — Justin Hogan, FMC Lexington Showcats; $80.00 raised
Top Special Olympics Athlete Fundraiser — Oana Warren, FMC Lexington Showcats; $180.00 raised
Polar Cup Corporate Division — Hugs From Dallas; 11 members, $3,294.05 raised
Polar Cup School Division — Pi Beta Phi, 12 members, $1,920.00 raised
Polar Cup Law Enforcement Division — FMC Lexington Showcats; 34 members, $8,669.99 raised
Top Overall Fundraising Team —FMC Lexington Showcats; 34 members, $8,669.99 raised
Best Group Costume — Beard and Loathing - Paper Hat Pirates
Best Individual Costume — Kevin Curren - World's Oldest Plunger