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Taking the plunge for Special Olympics Minnesota

The event is set to take place at Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center on Sunday, Feb. 27.

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The annual Alexandria Polar Plunge will take place at Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center on Sunday, Feb. 27.
Alexandria Echo Press file photo

ALEXANDRIA — It's a big year for the annual Alexandria Polar Plunge.

"We've been doing this for 16 years, and with the three years we've had the Cool School Plunge added in, with the money we've raised in our community, we hit the $1 million mark this year," said event coordinator Sgt. Keith Melrose of the Alexandria Police Department.

According to the Alexandria Polar Plunge's website, the event raised a total of $994,106 for Special Olympics Minnesota through 2021.

As of press time, this year's event had raised a total of $31,220 from 173 plungers.

"We've had years where we've had 400 people jump, and we've had years where it was a lot lower than that," Melrose said. "Last year, because of COVID, was an off-year for us, but we're ramped up again and we're hoping that we raise about $40,000."

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The event is set to take place at Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center on Sunday, Feb. 27, with registration opening at 10 a.m., Melrose said. Participants can also register online at plungemn.org/events/alexandria/ .

The plunge itself will begin at 1 p.m., he said.

Additionally, there will be a pre-registration/check in event held from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26, at Copper Trail Brewing.

"We'll have a free-will donation meal, and that money will go to the Special Olympics also," Melrose said.

Specifically, that money will go toward the plunge of the autistic 9-year-old son of one of the members of the law enforcement team.

"(He's) never jumped before," Melrose said. "All the money we raise from the free-will donation is going to go toward his plunge, so we can help him out, get his numbers up, too."

Those donations can be used in a number of ways by Special Olympics Minnesota, going toward programming and events for more than 8,000 athletes statewide. According to the Alexandria Polar Plunge's website:

  • $60 — Provides an eye examination and a pair of glasses for two Special Olympics Minnesota athletes. 
  • $100 — Sends a Unified Pair to Athlete Leadership Program University, Special Olympics Minnesota. 
  • $250 — Implements an entire Respect Campaign into a school/business/organization. 
  • $500 — Provides funding to start a brand-new Special Olympics Minnesota Delegation. 
  • $1,250 — Sends a Special Olympics Minnesota athlete to the Special Olympics USA Games. 

The weather is supposed to cooperate with Sunday's event, with Accuweather predicting that there will be no snow falling that day.
Just the same, it's still going to be cold, with a high of 20 degrees predicted.

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The water will be cold, too, of course.

"It's breathtaking and exhilarating all at the same time," Melrose said. "You raise this money for a great cause, and you jump in that water and it's cold, it takes your breath away.

"But the amazing feeling you have for what you just did, raising money for Special Olympics, it's an unbelievable feeling," he said.

The entire experience is "absolutely amazing," Melrose said.

"The friendships I've gained doing this with a few of the athletes around our area, it's allowed me and a few of my partners to volunteer at events and understand inclusion, that someone with a disability isn't different, they're a person just like us, they want to interact and play and do everything that anybody else can do," he said. "This allows them to do that."

For more information on the Alexandria Polar Plunge, visit
plungemn.org/events/alexandria/ .

Travis Gulbrandson covers several beats, including Osakis School Board and Osakis City Council, along with the Brandon-Evansville School Board. His focus will also be on crime and court news.
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