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Dive back in to the Polar Plunge this weekend for Special Olympics Wisconsin

Plunge solo, as a team, donate, or be “Too Chicken To Plunge” this Saturday to support 300 Special Olympics Athletes in our region.



There’s nothing like it, jumping into the icy cold water in the middle of winter, and for a fantastic cause.

The Polar Plunge happens Saturday, returning to Black River Beach in La Crosse. There’s still time to sign up to be involved in this premier winter event.

Click here to register for the plunge, which begins with pre-registration at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Or make a donation here. For more information on La Crosse’s Polar Plunge, which benefits the Special Olympics of Wisconsin, click here.

Funds raised from the Polar Plunge help serve nearly 9,000 incredible Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes, who are breaking down barriers to build communities of inclusion.

There are many ways to be involved. Pledge and plunge, donate, toss your boss, or be “too chicken to plunge.”

If you’ve never taken the plunge, it’s definitely an experience worth doing, at least once.

Polar Plunge committee member Kerry Gloede had some excellent beginner advice for attire on Ken Cooper’s Around River City Podcast: “Less is more, and I always recommend shoes.”

I’ve personally plunged numerous times and can say from experience, bundling up will only leave you with a lot of cold, wet clothes after the plunge. A tank and shorts have been my go-to most years, and an old pair of shoes, I don’t mind smelling a little river-like after they dry.

Teams can pick a song to pump them up to plunge into the chilly river at one of the pre-event check-ins, as well as receive their plunge time so they know when to arrive.

A lot of teams wear costumes, and we’ve seen some creative chickens over the years, too.

Aimee Schmidt shared a ridiculous memory with Cooper about the time she Plunged in an inflatable dinosaur suit.

“They float, so just know, if you’re wearing an inflatable, you will not completely plunge,” Schmidt said, adding the Special Olympics Athletes loved it so it was definitely worth it.

That’s really who this event is all about: the athletes.

Gloede told Z93 that La Crosse has one of the largest programs in the state, serving 300 athletes in the region.

The money raised at the Polar Plunge supports their competitions, mostly transportation to train and compete. Funds also help with uniforms and facilities as well as the regional tournaments hosted in La Crosse.

This year marks the 24th annual event in La Crosse and is also the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics of Wisconsin.

The first Wisconsin state event took place in West Allis in 1969 — just a year after the first Special Olympics Games in Chicago.

Three years later, in February 1972, Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI) incorporated as an accredited program of the international inclusion movement. SOWI empowers individuals with intellectual disabilities to experience the hard work, thrill, excitement and satisfaction of being an athlete through sports, health, education and leadership.

Not only are you supporting amazing athletes in our community, but there’s some great incentives as well for participating.

Early Check-In Events:
Wednesday, March 2, 2022; 4:00pm-6:30pm
Task Karate, 1501 St. Andrews Street, #206, La Crosse (New Address!)
Thursday, March 3, 2022; 4:00pm-6:30pm
Culvers, 9422 State Road 16, Onalaska
Friday, March 4, 2022; 10:00am-6:30pm
Black River Beach Neighborhood Center, 1433 Rose Street, La Crosse

Day of Event Schedule


8:30am – Volunteer Check In Begins
9:00am – Check In Begins
11:00am – Opening Ceremonies Followed by Plunging
Concessions and souvenirs will be available on site.

A shuttle will be available from John’s Bar and will run continuously beginning at 8:30am through the end of the event. This shuttle is free for everyone – Plungers, Volunteers, and Spectators! Free parking will be available near the Black River Beach in the Boat Landing Parking Lot on Clinton Street. The Black River Beach Neighborhood Center parking lot will be reserved for VIP & Accessible Parking only.

Hear the full Around River City Podcast with Ken Cooper featuring Kerry Gloede and Aimee Schmidt below.

Tracy has worked at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 2004. She is half of the Z93 Morning Buzz with Brittany and Ballzer and coordinates Z93's charity, Zcare. She writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse and announces for the Mississippi Valley Mayhem Roller Derby team.

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