By Mike Fletcher
Tribune crime reporter
Led by 12-year-old India Piel dressed as a hot dog, hundreds of brave men, women and children jumped into the icy water Saturday for the annual Polar Plunge to raise money for Special Olympics.
Piel, who comes from a family of plungers, raised more than $5,000 for the charity earning the right to carry the torch.
One-by-one plungers dressed in costumes, bathing suits and other attire stepped into the 38-degree pond at Crossroads Community Church near Ind. 26 and U.S. 31 for an experience they will never forget.
“That was crazy,” said one plunger as he ran from the icy water.
“Oh, it’s cold,” others said as they retreated to the church to warm up.
Plunge coordinator Tom Adams, an Area 5 board member, said the turnout was amazing.
“We had 121 plungers and raised $28,837.04,” Adams said after the plunge.
Each participant had to raise at least $75, or $50 for students, in order to take a turn wading or jumping into the icy pond.
“That’s the biggest numbers of plungers and highest number of money raised,” Adams said. “It’s awesome. We got a lot of support from the schools, organizations, a big group from Wabash and a large group from Chrysler.”
Adams also thanked the Howard County Sheriff Department dive team, Howard Regional Ambulance service and the Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Department, who were on stand-by in case of any complications.
With temperatures hovering in the high 20s and the water at 38 degrees, most cringed at the thought of jumping into a partially iced-over pond.
On the other hand, Seth McCorkle of Team Dodgeball from Chrysler looked forward to the challenge.
“We were hoping it would be colder,” he laughed before the plunge.
“This is our third year and we have 13 of us,” Seth said. “It’s awesome. It’s not as bad as it seems. And it’s for a good cause. I felt we can suffer a little bit for people who suffer every day.”
“I’m just glad to be able to do it,” said Seth’s wife, Marsha McCorkle.
“It wasn’t as bad as last year,” she said of the temperature. “It was worth it.”
While some plungers waded into the pond and quickly retreated, others dove in head first.
“This is my fifth year so I knew what to expect,” said Trevor Marler, a Taylor High School student, who went under the water.
“This is our third year,” said a shivering Becky Hintz, who braved the icy waters along with her friend, Laura Barrett, to raise money for Special Olympics.
“My daughter has special needs,” she said. “Laura came all the way from Alabama for the moral support.
“I just love Becky,” Laura said of why she traveled so far to jump into an icy pond. “It’s for a good cause.”
“It was very cold,” said Dan Cornell as he ran from the icy water. “That’s the longest breath when he get out after jumping in.”
Dave Nichols, the last of the plungers, said it wasn’t as bad as in year’s past.
“This is my fourth year,” he said drying off with a towel. “It’s a good way to raise money for a good cause.”
Mike Fletcher, Tribune crime reporter may be reached at 765-454-8565, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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