Never too old for coldJumping through a hole in the ice into frigid water doesn’t faze Kathleen Skaalerud of Alexandria – even though she is almost 70 years old.
By: Jo Colvin, Alexandria Echo Press
Jumping through a hole in the ice into frigid water doesn’t faze Kathleen Skaalerud of Alexandria – even though she is almost 70 years old.
For three consecutive years, Skaalerud has braved the shocking cold water in the Polar Bear Plunge, a fundraiser for Special Olympics.
The senior first took the plunge three years ago after discussing the event with her youth group at Church for the Harvest in Alexandria.
“We are always trying to do outreach, so I was trying to get them involved in this,” she explained, adding that she was met with some cold trepidation from the youth.
So she issued them a challenge and said, “If you do it, I’ll do it.”
The first year Skaalerud and her team plunged, wind chills reached 8 below zero, causing her to question her sanity and vow never to do it again. But as the year went on, memories of the shocking cold were overshadowed by her desire to help.
“Special Olympics is such a wonderful organization and helps so many kids,” she said of why she decided to repeat the jump. “It’s a challenge for myself and for others. I wanted to set that example for people.”
She also knew that, although shocking at the moment of impact, the end result was worth the few seconds of discomfort.
“Once I realized that you eventually warm up again, it wasn’t so bad,” she insisted. “It’s not as bad as what people think it’s going to be.”
Making the difficult plunge even more tolerable, and even “fun,” was the support, friendship and camaraderie of her “awesome” team from Church for the Harvest.
That support, and knowing that her efforts could help others, was enough to cajole her into jumping again this past Sunday. And for the third year in a row, she not only lived to tell about it, she is already thinking about next year’s icy plunge.
“Well, I never like to say for sure, but I’m very open,” she concluded. “You never know.”