Taking the plungePublished 6:43am Monday, February 10, 2014
As the brutally cold winter rages on, it would be fair to expect people to bundle up with a warm cup of hot chocolate and avoid going outside.
But one group of Fergus Falls residents, led by school district employee Jesse Thorstad, is facing the weather head-on, all in the name of charity.
“We thought it sounded exciting and dangerous and would be a terrific way to raise some money,” Thorstad said of putting a team together for the Feb. 23 Polar Plunge in Alexandria.
Thorstad has spent weeks rounding up a team of his coworkers and Fergus Falls Junior Special Olympics athletes for his Polar Plunge team.
The team, dubbed the Fergus Falls Frozen Assets, will head to Alexandria in a coach bus the morning of Feb. 23 for the charitable plunge.
Each member of the Fergus Falls Frozen Assets is required to raise $75 in pledges. Half of the money the team raises goes to the state Special Olympics program, while the other half goes directly to the Fergus Falls Junior team.
Jackie Formo joined the team because she is always up for a challenge. Stacy Kolle has been donating to plungers for years and decided to make the jump for herself this year.
Anna Weber is new to the area and thought joining the team would be a great way to get involved in the community.
Despite the harsh conditions, she hasn’t thought twice about taking the plunge.
“I think that makes it worth the challenge and worth asking for donations,” Weber said. “Some of my family has said, ‘You’re really still going to do this?’ Of course.”
As of Thursday morning, the team had 12 plungers signed up an has raised a total of $910. People can still sign up to join the team or donate to the cause. Thorstad would love to see another Fergus Falls group form in time for the plunge as well.
“We’re excited to raise awareness in our community for our Special Olympics group because they are a terrific group of volunteers and parents and athletes,” he said.
Thorstad serves as a coach for the Special Olympics basketball, golf and football programs during the year. He has been coaching for three years and works closely with Sheila and Wayne Hanson, who have been involved with the program for the better part of a decade.
Wayne Hanson will also be taking the plunge. Although this is the first year a Fergus Falls group has come together, Formo said it has been an easy experience so far.
“People’s donations have just been incredible,” she said. “Anyone that I’ve ever asked, as far as family, they want to come and watch.”
The Special Olympics athletes are in the middle of basketball season, and Fergus Falls will host an area basketball competition at Fergus Falls High School Thursday. Sheila Hanson said there should be about 150 athletes on hand.
Raising money for these kinds of programs is why Thorstad put together a Polar Plunge team. As for the weather, he said it’s mind over matter.
“I’m hoping for a cold, cold day because my brain tells me the water will be warmer then,” he said. “But I don’t know if that’s true or not.”
For more information on the Fergus Falls Frozen Assets or to donate to the team, go to www.tinyurl.com/plungeff