Whew! Mother Nature made 2015 the most challenging Polar Plunge season in our program's history. After a 2014 season where we dodged the worst of a bitterly cold winter, this year it seemed like nearly every event was affected by winter's fury. In reality, it was only really four of the six.
This year actually opened with the warmest day in the history of the Kentucky-Ohio Polar Plunge, with temperatures nearing 60 degrees on February 7. More than 750 turned out in the unseasonable heat to help raise more than $150,000.
The next week in Owensboro, the cold that marked the rest of Plunge season set in. The Owensboro event had two major changes this year -- the location and an added event. The Owensboro Plunge moved to Mitch McConnell Plaza in th Downtown Owensboro and the event added the Donut Dash 5k, where runners had to eat donuts at each mile marker on the route.
|Nicole Gatewood was one of two Polar Bears who achieved Super Plunger status in 2015.
The next week, more than a foot of snow fell across Kentucky, followed by a weekend dose of freezing rain. The result was the first cancellation in the history of the Kentucky Polar Plunge when the Lexington Plunge had to be called off due to cold and impassible roads. The weather also forced changes to the Western Kentucky Polar Plunge which had to postpone the Polar 5k that has been a part of the event for several years and the Plunge couldn't be held in the lake for the first time in its history, instead moving into small pools provided by the local fire department.
Conditions also forced the Louisville Plunge out of the Ohio River for the second consecutive year and the third in the last four with nearly 800 taking the plunge in pools set up in the Brown-Forman Amphitheater.
The final Plunge of the year in Lake Cumberland was also a winter storm casualty, as it was postponed from March 7 to March 21 after another heavy snowfall crippled the state.
Through all the challenges, nearly 2,000 people still managed to take the Plunge in Kentucky, not counting those who registered and still raised money in Lexington. In all the six events raised more than $555,000 for our athletes.
Two Polar Bears became Super Plungers this year as that program was revived in a different format from when it asked participants to plunge every hour for a 24-hour period. Special Olympics Kentucky Board Vice Chair Greg Taylor and Nicole Gatewood completed this Super Plunger requirements of raising more than $1,000 and participating in at least three Plunge events. Taylor jumped in Owensboro, Louisville and Lake Cumberland and Gatewood Plunged in Northern Kentucky, Louisville and Lake Cumberland.
Click on the location to find out more about this year's Plunge events:
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Our thanks to everyone who helped us Brrrrrrrrave the 2015 Polar Plunge season -- all our Polar Bears, volunteers, committee members and sponsors and everyone who helped promote the events. We can't tell you how much we appreciate your tireless support of our athletes in what has been extremely challenging circumstances for most of February.
For more information about the Plunge nearest you, contact Julie Goodpaster (Kentucky-Ohio, Lexington and Lake Cumberland) at 502-695-8222 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kendra Lowther (Louisville, Owensboro, Western Kentucky) at 502-326-5002 or email@example.com.