Otter Tail Polar Plunge raises over $70,000

The third annual Polar Plunge blew past its goal of raising $65,000 for the Special Olympics on Feb. 5. The event was held on Otter Tail Lake and raised $70,401 for the Special Olympics. 

“Thank you to those that helped plan and set up the event, those that took the plunge, and those that donated to the event. While it was a bit colder this year than the last plunges, the excitement and energy was just as high,” said Otter Tail County Sheriff Barry Fitzgibbons. “I am proud to be associated with such a great event. I look forward to the 2023 Special Olympics Polar Plunge. We are already looking at ways to make it even better.”

Organizers of the event explain the polar plunge as “a series of events where people go to the extreme to support Special Olympics Minnesota.” The weather on Saturday was extreme indeed. The wind was blowing, and the temperatures were barely above zero degrees. Yet over 100 plungers and many volunteers were on the lake freezin’ for a reason.

“I absolutely despise the cold, but I think the plunge is a good reminder to get out of my comfort zone once in a while…do something positive for someone else’s benefit,” said Scott Backstrom, a long time Polar Plunger and team captain of the Purple Plungers. “I’m thankful to be able to contribute and I know the athletes truly appreciate the outpouring of support from our community. It’s kind of like ‘Minnesota nice’ meeting “Minnesota ice.”

The impact of the donations is felt across the state. For example, $30 will pay for an 8-week season for a Special Olympian, while $1,250 will send an athlete to the Special Olympics USA Games. 

The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office and Otter Tail Lakes Country Association are planning to sponsor a fourth annual Polar Plunge next year.