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What's the Polar Bear Plunge?

You may have heard about it on the news, read about it online, or maybe even seen a video on YouTube, but what exactly is this "Plunge" that everyone's talking about?

The Polar Bear Plunge — presented by Minnesota law enforcement as part of the year-round Law Enforcement Torch Run® events to benefit Special Olympics — is a unique opportunity for individuals, organizations and businesses to support Special Olympics athletes by jumping into frigid Minnesota waters. It consists of 16 different events that take place across Minnesota during the coldest months of the year. From January through March, our Plunge crew will be traveling around the state to 16 different communities with one goal in mind: raise funds for Special Olympics Minnesota!

The concept is simple: Participants raise a minimum of $75 and take a dip into one of Minnesota's frozen lakes. But the Plunges are so much more than that. They're the kind of fun and exciting events that you really have to experience to understand.

So grab a friend, coworker, family member or go at it alone — register today and you'll have bragging rights for years to come. Not just anyone can say they jumped into a Minnesota lake in the dead of winter, right?

Who Plunges Support

Plunging in Minneapolis

Starting to second guess your decision to jump in a lake in the middle of winter? We'll give you over 7,100 reasons to take the Plunge: Special Olympics Minnesota athletes!

Take a few minutes to read about just a few of our athletes. Then when you're standing on the ledge about to take that chilly Plunge, just think of them — they're sure to warm your heart right up!

Plunge Facts

  • Did you know that 2014 will be the 17th year of the Polar Bear Plunge in Minnesota? The first one took place at Como Lake in 1998; its 65 participants raised $20,000.
  • In 2005, 100 Plungers raised $275,000 at five Plunge locations. By 2008, Minnesota had 11 Plunges, featured 2,500 participants, and raised $725,000. Just two years after that, in 2010, the Polar Bear Plunge took place in 13 different locations, included over 7,000 participants, and raised $1.4 million.
  • In 2013, we continued to increase the already incredible Plunge numbers with over 15,000 participants raising over $3 million for Special Olympics Minnesota.

At this rate, just imagine what 2014 will bring!

Law Enforcement

Snowflake as a police officer

The Polar Bear Plunge wouldn't happen without the support of Law Enforcement!

Plunges are a part of the year-round fundraising program called the Law Enforcement Torch Run, through which law enforcement personnel from across the state raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics Minnesota. Throughout the year, men and women in law enforcement volunteer their time and energy to host events to support us. In 2012, their amazing efforts raised $2.85 million for our athletes.

The Polar Bear Plunges may be just one part of the many events that the Law Enforcement Torch Run hosts each year, but they're certainly the most well known. Law enforcement folks sit on the planning committee at all Plunge locations, volunteer on Plunge days, recruit the dive teams to ensure safety at all events, help with set up and tear down of the Plunge sites, and work all year round to make these events a huge success.

Be sure to give law enforcment a big ol' Plunge THANK YOU when you see them at our events. We couldn't Plunge without them!

Learn more about the Law Enforcement Torch Run