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Polar Plunge challenge leads to splash - maybe two

Double dipping is usually discouraged, but Lonnie Wing of Alexandria just might be double dipping this Saturday - if the public comes through.

Wing, a KXRA-Radio program director and Swap Shop host, will be a first-time participant in this Saturday's Polar Bear Plunge for Special Olympics Minnesota. (See related story in the Entertainment section.)

Plunging - or dipping - into the icy waters of Lake Darling was not something on Wing's do-to list.

In fact, he's never thought of participating in the Polar Bear Plunge before last Thursday, February 18. But a caller to the Swap Shop program started joking around with Wing, giving him a hard time about doing the plunge.

After that call, Wing received another phone call about the plunge. This time, it was a challenge and it came from someone he knew.

"The guy told me he would sponsor me for $100 if I took the plunge," said Wing in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.

Wing said he was live on the air so everything was happening on the spur of the moment. Before he knew it, Wing had promised his listening audience that if $1,000 could be raised by today, Friday, February 26, he would jump in the Polar Bear Plunge.

"One of our listeners got this whole thing going; I would have never thought of doing it, but I was put on the spot," laughed Wing.

By last Friday, nearly $700 was raised - just one day after the public challenge hit the airwaves.

Monday rolled around and more than $1,000 was raised - thanks to an anonymous donor who gave Wing a check for $500.

However, Wing didn't reveal the $500 donation right away.

"I thought that if we can get this far, we should set a new goal of $2,000," said a determined Wing.

He publically set the new goal, doubling the first goal, and then revealed the anonymous donation.

Another call came in; it was another challenge. This time, a listener thought with the amount of money that was already raised, Wing should do the plunge twice.

He thought about it and came up with yet another challenge. Wing decided that if the public came up with $3,000, he would do the jump twice.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the amount pledged to Wing was $2,235. However, the amount in hand was $1,835.

He said that if the public can raise a total of $3,000 - meaning he has that amount in hand - by the end of the day Friday, he would jump twice on Saturday.

"If it gets to $3,000, then I guess it's a double dip!" he exclaimed - with a little hesitation.

Donations can be dropped off at the KXRA Radio station, 1312 Broadway, by today, Friday.

More than a plunge

Although the Polar Bear Plunge is something new for Wing, the reason for it, Special Olympics Minnesota, is not.

His son, Sam, participated in Special Olympics sports - and was a medal winner - throughout his high school career.

Wing said he competed in swimming, bowling and even a little golf.

"Sam was involved," said Wing. "It was his whole social network. It was so neat."

Wing said the importance of Special Olympics programs could never be overstated.

"You just can't explain how important it is for those kids," he said.

Although Sam won't be plunging with his dad in the Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday, he will be there - as his assistant and to cheer him on.