Nearly 450 brave and caring souls — not including crowds of families and fans — took a bone-chilling plunge in 11-degree weather Sunday under blue skies in Fox Lake.
Forty-eight teams, which included the Vernon Hills Police Department “Frozen Copsicles,” the Stevenson High School “Patriot Plungers” and the Mundelein Police Department “Frozen” group, took turns splashing solo in shallow inflatable pools filled with initially ice-crusted Fox Lake water.
“It only hurts for the two minutes after (you hit) the water,” said Trisha Smith, of Libertyville. “But by then, you realize how much money you raised and it’s all worth it.”
The ninth annual Fox Lake Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Illinois began at 1 p.m and ended after about 40 minutes of diving in and out of the pools.
Warming tents were set up several feet away with accommodations separated for men and women.
Some of the folks who lined the observation fence had towels on hand to wrap their pal or loved one in a warming hug moments after plungers emerged from the pools. Some plungers had steam coming off of their backs.
And yes, there were many shocked screams to accompany the cheers.
“I’m very proud,” said Don Hansen, deputy chief of the Mundelein Police Department, complimenting his staff. “It’s just that sacrifice to be willing to put yourself through those rigors to help the less fortunate.”
The day’s fundraising goal was $130,000 and was still being verified as of Sunday afternoon, said Lauren Del Barto of Buffalo Grove, manager of business development and partnerships of Special Olympics Illinois (Areas 13 & 18).
Del Barto is a 2010 Stevenson graduate who works basically across the street from her alma mater. Her brother Nick Del Barto, 16, a Stevenson sophomore, was on hand Sunday to cheer on the Stevenson Patriot Plungers team.
“It’s cool to see people at my high school help out,” said Nick, a Patriots lacrosse player who plans to take the Palatine Twin Lakes Polar Plunge on March 1.
Lauren Del Barto, who also played lacrosse for the Patriots, was pleased to report Stevenson won the Cool School Challenge, raising more than $3,000.