OSHKOSH — In her 11th year as director of development for the Fox Valley Polar Plunge benefitting the Special Olympics, Nicci Sprangers’ easiest day of the entire year was Saturday.
No more planning. No more looking for volunteers or extra donations. Nothing left to do but sit back and enjoy the festivities she helped create.
“Today is the easy day. We’ve been out here for two days, both Thursday and Friday and it requires month’s work of planning and then basically two days of physical labor to set it up. (Saturday) is the fun day when it all comes together and we see everyone out here that comes and supports us,” Sprangers said.
Freezin’ for a Reason was the motto Saturday, as roughly 1,800 participants jumped into the frozen waters of Lake Winnebago at the 14th Annual Fox Valley Polar Plunge at Menominee Park in Oshkosh.
People of all ages joined in the festivities that the Plunge had to offer, and even children joined in on the plunging action, jumping into a kids pool in the “Pee-Wee” tent that was temperature-set at 42-degrees.
They also had a Freezin for a Reason 5K run before the Plunge. People had the option of just running the 5K or participating in both the run and the Plunge. Those who participated in both were the first jumpers into Lake Winnebago.
For the rest of the jumpers, the event started at 12:15 p.m. and lasted through 3 p.m. with a cast of “celebrities” judging the contestants, including Miss Oshkosh Chelsey Wasielewski and Oshkosh West’s Dean of Students Kevin Wachholz.
After the brave participants recovered from their Plunge by jumping into one of four hot tubs available, the rest of the afternoon and evening consisted of live music, food — including a wing-eating competition — and an array of different beverages.
Spranger’s has seen her event grow every year since she has been in charge, and this year she is hoping to make the Fox Valley Polar Plunge the largest in the entire state.
“This is our largest event for the Special Olympics in the Fox Valley area, and there are 12 Polar Plunges in the state and this year we hope to be the largest,” Sprangers said. “With 1,800 participants we’re hoping to raise about $425,000 this year. We don’t have as many plungers as Madison does, but we’re hoping to be number one and be on top for most donations.”
In the 14 years of the Fox Valley Polar Plunge, the event has raised a total of $2.9M, all of which goes directly towards the Special Olympic participants.
Jake Van Camp: (920)426-6661 or firstname.lastname@example.org