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Monroe prepares to take plunge for Special Olympics

150 expected to dip into chilly River Raisin

Editor's Note: This version corrects the depth of the water to 5 feet, instead of 55 feet.

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A participant prepares to plunge into the River Raisin during the 2012 event, which had 78 plungers. The Monroe County Special Olympics will be among the beneficiaries of the event.

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MONROE — Organizers of the Monroe Polar Plunge 2013 expect about 150 hearty souls to take a chilly dip into the River Raisin on Sunday and all for a good cause: raising money for Special Olympics Michigan.

Participants will gather between the Clamdigger restaurant, 1540 East Elm Ave., and Riverfront Marina. Registration is to start at 11:30 a.m., with the plunge following at 1 p.m., when the participants will jump into the frigid Raisin from a dock.

Registration also can be done online at firstgiving.com/polarplunge/monroe2013. To donate on behalf of a participating team or individual, scroll down and click on the appropriate name.

This is the Polar Plunge’s second year in Monroe, said Stacie Ourlian, area director of the Monroe County Special Olympics.

“It’s an important fund-raiser for Special Olympics,” she said. “Last year we had 78 jumpers and raised $16,000. We’re planning for 150 jumpers.”

She said that half the money raised will go directly to the Monroe County Special Olympics, with the rest going to the national organization, a nonprofit that provides sports opportunities for persons with cognitive impairments.

“The goal is for them to reach their full potential in an athletic setting while also getting social opportunities,” Ms. Ourlian said.

Special Olympian Nathan Smallwood of Maybee will be among the plungers, his mother, Kelly Wicker, said. He turns 15 that day and will take the plunge with Ms. Ourlian.

“It will be a very exciting day for him,” Ms. Wicker said. “He loves swimming. He also does cycling and basketball. He’s been in Special Olympics for a year. ... It’s a great program.”

Monroe’s Polar Plunge is distinguished by its costume contest that gives out a Golden Plunger Award for best costume.

The entry fee is $75 for adults and $45 for high school and middle-school students. Anyone under 18 must have a waiver signed by a parent.

All plungers will receive a Polar Plunge 2013 T-shirt. Participants who collect money but forgo the plunge get a shirt reading “Too Chicken to Plunge,” and an invitation to the post-plunge party. The plunge is done in cooperation with the Law Enforcement Torch Run, a group of law enforcement and corrections officers that raises money for Special Olympics Michigan.

Ms. Ourlian said there were concerns last month that the river level would be too low to allow for safe plunging from the dock. But these have been allayed, and divers will check the depth before the plunge. The water is no more than 5 feet deep, and the dock extends only a foot above its surface.

As a precaution, crews from Monroe Community Ambulance and the Monroe Fire Department will be on hand.

Monroe’s is one of 28 Polar Plunges held in Michigan from January through March.

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