“When you’re in the middle of it, you can’t wait until it’s over,” he said. 

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How much is it worth to be woken up once an hour for 24 hours and ushered into a freezing-cold pool of water? Nine Oklahoma residents raised at least $1,000 each for the pleasure. Polar Plunge is the signature fundraising event for Special Olympics Oklahoma. Last year, 1,150 people jumped into shockingly cold water, raising $258,000 for the nonprofit, said development director Jennifer Lightle.

“It’s the biggest fundraiser we do all year,” she said. “$275,000 is this year’s goal.”

Nine Super Plungers are helping meet that goal by taking part in a marathon of frigid falls starting 5 p.m. Friday at Country Leisure Manufacturing, 3001 N. Service Road, in Moore.

“Most people go and plunge once, but these Super Plungers are going to be doing it for 24 hours straight,” Lightle said. “They raise at least $1,000 to take part.”

Starting at 5 p.m., Super Plungers will jump in the chilly water of Country Leisure’s outdoor pool once an hour for a full day.

“Getting them up at 2 a.m. to plunge is exciting,” Lightle said. “We try and give them the VIP treatment, so they get in the hot tubs there after jumping in the water.”

The water at the plunges is usually around 38 degrees Fahrenheit, Lightle said. Water freezes at 32 degrees.

Oklahoma City Police Department service technician Brett House began plunging in 1996 on a dare from Capt. Phil Carr, who is now retired.

“I’d been doing the law enforcement torch run since 1994,” House said. “[Carr] asked me if I was man enough to jump in Eagle Lake and kind of dared me. I had a tux — I used to drive a limo — so I put it on and jumped in Eagle Lake.”

Once in the water, House thought it wasn’t so bad. Since then, he has become an annual participant and started doing the Super Plunge when it began five years ago.

“Some days you get out of the water and it’s 60 degrees,” he said. “Sometimes the air temperature is 18 and the water is 30 and it’s actually worse getting out of the water.”

After dunking his body in chilly water at least once a year for two decades, House said, he has come to look forward to plunging.

“When you’re in the middle of it, you can’t wait until it’s over,” he said.

The discomfort is quickly forgotten when House thinks about the people who are helped because of Special Olympics Oklahoma.

“It’s a minor thing when you’re doing it because of why you’re doing it,” House said. “These athletes are my best friends. Their families are my families.”

Not only does plunging raise money — House estimates he has raised more than $50,000 for the charity — it also raises awareness.

Lightle said that’s why volunteers call it “freezin’ for a reason.”

“This is the 16th year we’ve had the plunge. We’re hoping to break 1,200 [participants] this year over 14 different plunges,” she said. “Special Olympics Oklahoma serves 11,600 athletes in the state and gives them the opportunity to take part in 140 events throughout the year.”

Those interested in a single dip in the frigid water can sign up for Oklahoma City’s Polar Plunge 9 a.m. Saturday at White Water Bay, 3908 W. Reno Ave. Participants must donate a minimum of $75 to plunge.

Print headline: Freezer earn, Oklahomans face frigid waters to raise money for Special Olympics Oklahoma.

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