Polar Plunge at Versailles State Park
188 participants ‘freeze for special reason’

Sandy Day Howard

Participants with a common goal were ‘Freezin’ for a Reason’ at the Versailles State Park Saturday. Special Olympics supporters from the entire Southeastern Indiana area participated in this year’s jaunt into the cold, icy waters of the Versailles Lake to “Take the Plunge” for Special Olympics on Saturday, Feb. 22.

Polar Tutu



Despite 50 plus degree temperatures outside Saturday, the frigid water at Versailles Lake still took away your breath, as these Milan students discovered Saturday. Pictured below, Polar Plunge team members from REMC also were shocked by the water.



Polar Plunge



Ice saws were used to cut through nine inches of ice to reveal the frosty waters of the Versailles Lake, as hundreds of anxious onlookers stood by. Cars were parked past the bridge by the boat dock/pool area of the park with not a vacant spot in sight as participants registered and planned their entrance into the cold lake. Plungers were grateful for a sunny Saturday and a large crowd, even though the water temperature in the frosty lake was well below freezing. The frigid cold didn’t deter participants, even though the arctic water in which they submerged themselves took their breath as they entered it.

The 188 plunge participants raised a record amount, $51,700; $4,000 more than last year. It was also the most participants they have had. Also, 66 people participated in the Polar Climb 5K Run and 3K Walk, and six children were brave enough to join in the first ever Pee-Wee Plunge. The Village Store of Oldenburg was the largest team with 19 members, and the Knights of Columbus team of Aurora, Lawrenceburg, Batesville, Osgood, and Greensburg raised the most money at $5,399. The money raised goes to support the 11,000 Special Olympic athlete programs.

The Special Olympics Polar Plunge mascot was once again claimed by the teams from South Ripley Schools, headed by Brenda Strimple, whose students and staff raised $2,571 for the cause, winning ‘custody’ of the coveted polar bear for the fifth consecutive year. South Ripley was named ‘Cool School’ and ‘Top Fundraising School’ once again. Ripley County resident Owen Menchhoffer was the top individual fundraiser and raised $2,060 in pledges. Best costume went to the Moores Hill Volunteer Fire Dept and the Public Safety Challenge award went to the fire department’s Hot Chicks for raising $730.

A special award was given to Bill McDonald of the Knights of Columbus for statewide sponsorship of all 12 polar plunges. Strimple, longtime supporter of the Polar Plunge, had this to say, “Congratulations to South Ripley High School who re-claimed the Overall Top School in our “Cool School Challenge” for the fifth year in a row. Special thank you to Milan H.S., Switzerland Co. H.S., East Central H.S., and Lawrenceburg H.S. for increasing the competition in this year’s “Cool School Challenge.”

Special thanks was issued to the Dearborn County Water Rescue, whose members stood waist high in the icy perimeters of the designated area, giving plenty of encouragement and ‘high fives’ to plungers as they waded into the slushy waters.

South Ripley students dedicated their ‘dip’ this year to the memory of Garrett Goodpaster who died suddenly three weeks ago. Garrett was an SRHS student in Trace Tucker’s Functional Skills Classroom until his graduation in 2012.

Tucker left this message for Mrs. Strimple on Facebook regarding Saturday’s event: “Thanks so much for all your time and effort on the plunge. Our SR Olympians really benefit from it. We are getting ready for summer games at Indiana State first weekend in June. So special your team did this in memory of Garrett. He spoke volumes to me without hardly muttering a word! God bless you and your team!!



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