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Morgan Vanderhei
Jumpers leap off the dock at Barnum Bay Marina in a previous year's Polar Bear Jump in Rome. / Daily Tribune Media file photo


ROME — New Year’s traditions take on an entire new meaning when you’re jumping into freezing water.

For the 17th year, the Lure Bar & Grill in Rome will host the annual Polar Bear Jump to benefit Children’s Miracle Network. Whooping and cheering, an estimated 100 people will line up to “walk the plank,” jumping into the frigid water at 1 p.m. Jan. 1, with the air temperature forecast to be below 10 degrees.

Individual jumpers or teams will collect pledges from family and friends. Top fundraisers in both categories have the chance to win prizes. All polar bears must raise or donate $25 and will receive a commemorative key chain. Those raising $75 or more will get a 2014 Polar Bear Jump T-shirt, and those raising $100 or more will receive a Polar Bear beach towel. Hot tubs once again will be generously provided by The Pool People.

First year jumper Morgan Vanderhei, Miss Wisconsin Rapids Area, said, “The national platform for the Miss America Organization is the Children’s Miracle Network, and throughout my years as a contestant and now titleholder, CMN has become near and dear to my heart. As the current Miss Wisconsin Rapids Area, I look forward to raising funds and awareness for my local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. This year is all about embracing everything that comes my way, so what better way to kick off the New Year than by jumping into Lake Petenwell and chilling for the children.”

This year, organizers hope to raise more than $10,000 to add to the impressive $168,000 the event has raised for CMN since its inception. Contributions to Children’s Miracle Network benefit an array of pediatric programs and services and impacts young lives battling virtually every type of childhood illness and injury. The local CMN program counties include: Adams, Ashland, Bayfield, Clark, Forest, Gogebic (UP), Iron, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Oneida, Portage, Price, Sawyer, Taylor, Vilas and Wood. Funds are both raised and distributed within this 17-county area.

For more information about the jump, call The Lure Bar & Grill at 715-325-6555 or visit the local Children’s Miracle Network website at

More on icy plunges in Wisconsin: Browse chilly dip photos | Share your photos | More plunge headlines | More extreme outdoor events

Contributed by Iilee Pederson, foundation event and volunteer services coordinator, Foundation of Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Children’s Miracle Network.

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